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The Role And Development Of Women In Sport

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The Role And Development Of Women In Sport Introduction Through out the history of the advancement of sport, women have had to strive twice as hard to gain the same status and recognition as their counterparts - men. There have been many factors, which have prevented women from participating in sport and reaching their full potential (for example, lack of finance, time or education). Perhaps the biggest factor has been prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. The Changing Face Of Women's Sport The changing face of sport has always been influenced by the stereotypical discrimination that women have always faced. In the beginning of the 19th century, the view of women typically characterised them as emotional passive people who were unable to take part in energetic activities where as men were seen as naturally aggressive, so were therefore more suited to sport. To defend and justify this view, the Victorian's and Edwardians maximised on the physiological differences between women and men, (i.e. women having wider hips, higher fat distributions and breasts) to further 'prove' that women were unsuited to sports. Numerous scientists, medical practitioners and social theorists developed the theory of 'social Darwinism'. This drew from Darwin's 'theory of evolution' in which the common view of women's role in society was to 'produce healthy offspring' and so increase the population and 'further the evolution of the human race'. The theory of 'social Darwinism' and the general belief of women's incapacity played a key role in the development of the theory of 'constitutional overstrain'. The Theory Of Constitutional Overstrain The medical profession in Britain and throughout Europe applied the theory of 'constitutional overstrain' to prevent mainly middle-class women from participating in sport and gaining an equal education in comparison to what was available to men. The theory argued that after women went through basic biological processes (e.g. puberty, breast feeding and menopause) there would not be sufficient energy left for other processes such as physical and intellectual processes. ...read more.


Her successor, Martina Bergman (who worked for the London School Board from 1882 - 1887) trained 1312 women teachers in Swedish gymnastics who then went on to introduce the system in to 300 schools. By 1888, every girls and infants department were being taught Swedish gymnastics. The Work Of Madame Bergman �sterberg Madame �sterberg was the successor to Martina Bergman. She was the biggest advocate of Swedish gymnastics, maximising on the work of her predecessors. Swedish gymnastics became popular for a number of reasons. Many doctors and teachers thought that it promoted health (it was claimed that the exercises would 'develop the chest' 'straighten the back' 'improve digestion' and 'produce courage'). It gained instant credibility because it was formulated on 'scientific' principles. It was also cheap, safe and easy to do with large groups of children making it easy to introduce nationwide. It was less harsh than the traditional drills, although there were still some drill aspects to it, such as marching as can be exemplified by the typical program for 7-year-old children: 1. Hips firm 2. Feet Opening & Closing 3. Trunk bending forward and raising (hips firm) 4. Foot placing sideways (hips firm) 5. Marching 6. Arms bending upwards. Each movement was preceded by the command 'Po-sition' and followed by 'Re-pose'. Madame �sterberg promoted it by organising public displays, which forged links with more influential people, which in turn furthered its popularity. Swedish gymnastics would become The Inter-War Years Britain's involvement in the First World War enabled women to gain more confidence and to challenge the traditional role of women in society, because for the first time they were allowed to take on what had been traditional male roles (although many women were dismissed from their war-time jobs after the war). Although Britain in the pre-war era had been the most influential country within sports, by the 1920's America had started to influence globally, the participation in sports, particularly among women. ...read more.


Newspapers Newspapers also have a long history of under-representation of women's sport. It is quite common to find absolutely few or no mention of female sports within many newspapers sports section (this is regardless of whether they are a broadsheet newspaper or a tabloid). This can be exemplified by a study between December 2000 to January 2001, which was conducted by The Women's Sport Foundation. After the analysis of 49 different issues of newspapers, they found that out of 701 pages of sports reports, there were 1,564 photographs of men in comparison to just 36 of women. This meant that overall; women's coverage was just 2.3%. The media overall has the ability to define and shape the views of women in sport. Often the coverage that female competitors receive, concentrates on their femininity and treats them as 'sexual objects' rather than a powerful sportsperson. This type of coverage has the effect of undermining women's sports in general, and in limiting the amount of sponsorship that top female athletes receive. The Women's Sports Foundation The Women's Sports Foundation (WSF) was created in 1984, by women who were concerned by the lack of representation women received in the world of sport. It is funded by the government body Sport England, however since May 2003, the Pentland Group Plc has sponsored them. The aim of the Women's Sports Foundation is to increase the profile of women within many sporting roles. This has been partly achieved by: * The National Action Plan for Women and Girls' Sport and Physical Activity - this was designed to encourage sporting organisations to identify targets and implement actions that would help to address the imbalance between the two genders. * The Women into High Performance Coaching Project - this was a three-year pilot scheme, (established in 2000 by the foundation and Sports Coach UK) that was created to develop women into senior coaching positions. The WSF also aims to increase the number of women and girls that are participating in sport. ?? ?? ?? ?? The role and development of women in sport - 1 - By Valerie Hope - 12MB ...read more.

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