Sex Roles

, Volume 74, Issue 7–8, pp 275–287

Microaggressions and Female Athletes

Feminist Forum Review Article


Using a combination of scholarly literature and media reports, this paper classifies instances of subtle bias, or microaggressions, toward female athletes in the United States. We identify three common microaggression themes against these athletes based on Sue’s (2010) taxonomy: assumption of inferiority, objectification, and restrictive gender roles. We apply each of these themes to explore the ways in which female athletes in the U.S. experience pervasive and subtle gender-based biases. Women are assumed to be inferior athletes and therefore receive media coverage that is dismissive of their abilities, if they receive coverage at all. The media also focus primarily on the appearance of female athletes regardless of their athletic successes, and are quick to recoil at women who do not fit into the traditional feminine mold. We examine how these microaggressions are associated with deleterious biological, cognitive, and behavioral consequences among athletes. We also explore the effect of these microaggressions on the self-image and physical fitness of female non-athletes. Finally, potential avenues for future research are discussed.


Microaggression Gender Athletes Women 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA

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