Call for Contributors | Routledge Handbook of Gender Politics in Sport and Physical Activity | Call ends July 1, 2020

Brief background

This Handbook focuses on the political aspects of gender in the fields of sport and physical activity (PA) and provides a comprehensive overview of the complex interplay between politics, gender, sport and PA. The main emphasis is on sport and PA, but references can also be made to exercise. The Handbook is designed to be a key reference for academics, and an accessible as well as informative resource for sport practitioners, people involved in PA and exercise and interested in politics. We believe this is a timely project given contemporary discourses around gender and the connection of those to the complex, current political landscape. Examples regarding the connections between gender, gender studies and politics can be seen emerging across Europe, which, we would argue, is aligned with the continuous rise of populist right wing politics. The intensifying of populism in European politics is evidenced by the growth of such right-wing populist parties that have been gaining momentum in Spain, Greece, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland and Sweden amongst others. Examples of right wing populism include the election of President Donald Trump in the USA, the success of the ‘Leave’ campaign in the 2016 British referendum on European Union membership, the unexpected popularity of the Brexit Party in the 2019 UK European Elections and the growing presence of the Vox party in the Spanish parliament.

Consequently, we would argue that this is an opportune time for gender studies to formulate strategic responses to politically motivated marginalisation and reinforce the significance of its value and challenge to dominant socio-cultural narratives. This is of particular importance in the fields of sport and PA. Despite the progress that has been made in terms of balancing the gender scales in these fields, there remains a gap in terms of gender representation and/or reinforcement of traditional gender binary by underpinning that certain sports and physical activities are still considered gender appropriate. The structure of sport is specifically useful to reinforce gender binary as in most sports men and women would compete separately and crossover is either not allowed or leads to enormous controversy. In 2019 various mass and social media platforms were replete with discussions and, often strong, opinions around transgender athletes and their potential contribution to the demise of women’s sports. Here a cacophony of voices and opinions clash which varyingly focus on protecting women’s sport, principles of inclusivity, biological/sex differences and advantages as well as gender identities and fairness. Given the complexity of ongoing debates around gender, a sensible, and perhaps straightforward, approach for many may be to buy into the mantra of populist right-wing parties and agree with the views of conservative governments that people are either born male or female and no gender alternatives should be recognised. In this politically exclusionist climate that attributes primordial approaches to understanding gender and sex, we would argue that Handbook exploring and documenting the roles of gender studies and gender activism in sport and PA is of exponential importance.

Main aims of this Handbook 

      • To engage with the current challenges facing gender studies as it relates to sport and PA;
      • To offer a current and cutting edge account of existing and future research in the fields of sport and PA;
      • To challenge and problematize the continuous hegemony of dichotomous thinking around gender;
      • To delineate clear connections between sport, PA, gender studies and politics, with specific focus on contemporary

Suggested themes include (but not limited to) 

      • Gendered history of exercise
      • Gendered history of PA
      • Generational politics of gender
      • Theorising equal pay
      • Theorising non-conforming athletes
      • Troubling gender binary in social policy
      • Politics of Gender
      • Politics of Patriarchy
      • Gendered Play
      • Gendered Games
      • Gendered Sports
      • Gender in the sporting media
      • Fitness to work: Gender testing at work
      • Challenging gender policy in work-related PA
      • ‘Disabled’ Gender
      • Suffering in sport/PA
      • Abuse in sport/PA
      • Gendered Media – traditional
      • Perfect Gender Storm – ‘Me too vs Right wing politics’
      • Gendered Ageing/Generations
      • Gendered nutrition
      • Price of Gender
      • Unsustainable Gender Practices
      • Gender policing
      • Categorisation of gendered sport
      • Gendered technologies
      • The future gender bodies


      • Chapters should be 5000 words in length including references, tables, graphs, etc.
      • Chapter interest expression/abstract submission by 1st July 2020
      • Chapters confirmed by 31st July 2020
      • Chapter 1st draft submission deadline is 1st Feb. 2021.

If you are interested in making a contribution to this Handbook please get in touch with us for further information and/or please send us an abstract (350 words max.) of your proposed chapter by 1st July 2020.

In your abstract please identify which theme you wish to write about and detail how you wish to link gender and politics with your selected theme.

We look forward to hearing from potential contributors!

Contact info:

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