Call for Papers | Women’s Sport in a Professional Era | A volume in the Emerald Studies in Sport and Gender series, edited by Ali Bowes and Alex Culvin. Call ends September 13, 2019

In light of the well documented boom of women’s sport across the globe (see McLachlan, 2019) we are increasingly seeing moves towards the (semi-)professionalisation of elite women’s sport.  Initiated in the wake of the second wave feminist movement in America in the 1950s with the formation of the LPGA and the WTA, the move for women’s team sports to follow this shift towards a professional era has been slow, sporadic and marred with difficulties.  However, since the turn of the 21st century there have been significant changes in the landscape of elite women’s sport, with Lough and Geurin (2019) proclaiming that women’s sport is positioned to break new ground both socially and economically.

In the UK, there has been a move towards professionalising domestic leagues, with national governing bodies offering central contracts to its most successful female players.  The launch of the Women’s Super League by the Football Association in 2011 heralded the start of a professional era for the UK’s female footballers.  The England Cricket Board offered contracts to its elite women’s squad in 2014, and England Netball offered contracts to players in 2016, to allow players to play full time.  The Rugby Football Union offered 9-month contracts to their elite women’s squad in the run up to the 2017 World Cup, and more recently announced full time funding for players in 2019 in the lead up to the 2021 World Cup.  The global picture is similar, with numerous examples across a range of sports demonstrating the increasing professionalisation of elite level women’s sport (for example, football in Argentina, and Australian Rules football in Australia).

This book will present an overview of the increasing shift within global, elite-level women’s sport to move towards professionalisation.  Each case study included in the collection will highlight the complex, multi-faceted and at times problematic nature of women’s involvement in professional sport.  The collection will pay attention to the intersectional nature of women’s varied experiences in professional sport, including empirical research that has considered issues around race/ethnicity and sexuality.

Topics may include but are not limited to

    • Contemporary changes in established women’s competitions and leagues
    • Histories of the professionalisation of women’s sport
    • Professionalisation of action, extreme and lifestyle sport
    • Impacts on girls’ sport and sporting pathways
    • Gender studies analyses of men’s response to the growth in professional women’s sport
    • Barriers to women’s professional roles as coaching, support and administrative staff
    • Comparisons across sport and national contexts
    • Women and sport media and journalism
    • Fan cultures in women’s sport
    • Women as sport celebrities

Requirement for chapter contributions

    • 100-150 word author bio/s
    • 300-500 word abstract including significance of the sport(s), geographical context, focus and intersectional nature (if possible)
    • Emailed to by 13thSeptember 2019.

Contribution details and timelines

    • Submission of chapter proposals: 13thSeptember 2019
    • Notification of acceptance: October 2019
    • Chapters should be between 5000 – 6000 words (including references) and will be subject to peer review
    • Submission of full chapters: April 2020 (TBC)

About the editors

Ali Bowes (@DrABowes; is currently a Lecturer in the Sociology of Sport at Nottingham Trent University, Ali completed her PhD in the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science at Loughborough University, focusing on the relationship between international women’s sport and English national identity.  Research interests centre on feminist analyses of women’s sport, and most recently Ali is researching women’s professional golf.  She has published her research in peer reviewed journals and in edited collections.

Alex Culvin (@alexculvin; is currently a post-doctoral researcher at Durham University. Alex competed her PhD in the School of Sport and Wellbeing at the University of Central Lancashire. Her PhD focused on football as work for women in England. Research interests centre on gender, football, social policy, labour and precarity.

About the series


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