Gymnastics girls and hockey chicks – gender in two sports organisations

Cecilia Jonsson, Marie Eriksson & Evelina Källberg
Linnaeus University, Växjö


jonsson-eriksson-kallberg

Sport is a popular national movement in Sweden, involving tens of thousands of children and their coaches. These children spend much of their leisure time learning a specific sport under the supervision of a coach. Sport is also an arena where gender-related norms are formed, reformulated and manifested. The aim of this article is to explicate gender-related norms in two sports associations for girls between nine and twelve years old: one traditionally male sport, ice hockey, and one traditionally female, gymnastics. The empirical data is based on observations of training sessions and interviews with coaches and board members. Our main findings are, besides the obvious gender difference in the children’s sporting preferences, that gender-related norms are expressed in three principal ways: through (i) attribute appearances, such as clothing and colors, through (ii) a gender hierarchy in the leader’s spoken language, and through (iii) gender-based expectations. In both sports associations studied, the male was the norm.


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CECILIA JONSSON, Lic Phil in Sociology and PhD in Social Work, earned her PhD in 2012 with the thesis The Volunteers: From Missionary Organizations to Volunteer Travel Agencies. Jonsson is a senior lecturer in social work at Linnaeus University, where she conducts research on nonprofit organizations and volunteers.

MARIE ERIKSSONS has a PhD in History, earned in 2010 with the thesis Between spouses. Marital conflict and violence in religious and political arenas, 1810-1880. Eriksson is a senior lecturer in social work at Linnaeus University, where she conducts research on gender and violence.

EVELINA KÄLLBERG earned her Bachelor of Arts in 2013. This article is based on her thesis Gymnastics girls and hockey chicks – gender in two sports organisations (2013). She has a background in sports, as a coach and as an active athlete. She currently works as a social worker.

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