, Volume 58, Issue 1-2, pp 40-57

Perspectives of Women College Athletes on Sport and Gender

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Abstract

Although sport access for females has greatly improved, certain behaviors continue to be considered more or less appropriate for females depending upon how compatible they are with biologically or socially constructed female characteristics. However, young women who have grown up playing sports and continue participation at the college level have constructed meanings about being a young woman and an athlete. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analyzed to investigate how seven gymnasts and seven softball players competing in NCAA Division I athletics view and contend with a “female/athlete paradox.” These women recognized preferred femininity and at times constructed images based on this notion. However, they also embraced their athleticism and felt at ease choosing not to perform femininity in some contexts.