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The Experience of Former Women Officials and the Impact on the Sporting Community

Abstract

In an effort to explore the shortage of female sport officials, the authors examined the experience of eight former female basketball officials from five geographically diverse states in the U.S. who voluntarily left the role. Specifically, the authors asked former female basketball officials to describe their workplace experiences. Utilizing a phenomenological approach and workplace incivility framework, the results indicated that the felt social inequity for female officials detracted from the participants experiencing a sense of community in the workplace, which ultimately led to their discontinuation in the role. Results indicate four key factors that created this uncivil work environment. An examination of the data revealed four major themes. Specifically the female basketball officials reported experiencing a Lack of Mutual Respect from male counterparts; Perceived Inequity of Policies; a Lack of Role Modeling and Mentoring for and from female officials; and experiencing more Gendered Abuse than did their male counterparts. The combination of these four factors exacerbated the female officials’ inability to connect to the officiating community and led to their withdrawal from the role. The results further indicate that women officials likely threatened the hegemonic characteristics of a sport setting. Although females have made great strides in terms of sport participation, the practical implications of this research suggest that understanding females in workplace roles, such as officiating, is vital if social equity is to be achieved in the sporting community.

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Correspondence to Jacob K. Tingle.

Appendix A

Appendix A

The Experience of Former Women Officials Semi-Structured Interview Guide

  1. 1.

    Tell me about why you decided to start officiating? What did you expect that you would like about officiating? What expectations, if any, weren’t met? Why did you decide not to continue? Is there anything you miss about officiating?

  2. 2.

    Did you make friends with other referees? Do you still keep in contact with anyone who you met through officiating?

  3. 3.

    How did others (family, friends and co-workers) view your involvement in officiating? Were they supportive? What did they think when you decided to stop officiating?

  4. 4.

    Can you tell me if you have ever felt a sense of belonging within the officiating community…What was this like for you? Can you give me a specific example of when you felt a strong connection to the officiating community during your experience?

  5. 5.

    Some have suggested that the sense of community and/or the social worlds that develop within and among referees is important to their retention. What do you think about this?

  6. 6.

    Some people have said there are times when they didn’t feel a sense of community during their officiating experience. Did you ever feel that way?

  7. 7.

    Do you think that you experienced a stronger or weaker sense of community in comparison to other referees?

  8. 8.

    How do you think the management of officiating (such as their policies and procedures) impacted the sense of community (or lack thereof) that you experienced? How about in comparison to the experiences of referees that you know continued on.

  9. 9.

    Was there anything about the referring experience that surprised you?

  10. 10.

    Can you tell me if others (fellow officials, coaches, or administrators) could have done anything to create an environment that would have led to you staying in officiating?

Probes:

  • Tell me more about that.

  • Can you give me an example?

  • Can you describe how that felt?

  • I am not sure I understand what you mean.

  • Can you define that or tell me what that means to you?

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Tingle, J.K., Warner, S. & Sartore-Baldwin, M.L. The Experience of Former Women Officials and the Impact on the Sporting Community. Sex Roles 71, 7–20 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0366-8

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Keywords

  • Sport officiating
  • Workplace incivility
  • Gender equity
  • Retention
  • Community
  • Phenomenology