An examination of women in leadership positions in sport: A case study of Australian Rules Football

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Sport is a platform that both reinforces and challenges gendered stereotypes and it is often seen to privilege men over women. However, women are becoming more visible in roles and positions that have traditionally been held by men in sport (such as roles in sports departments, sports journalism and managerial positions). These changes have challenged the traditional gender hierarchy in sport and are gradually changing the perception of women working in sport. This thesis highlights the lived experiences, beliefs and opinions of 26 women working and volunteering in leadership positions in Australian rules football. Using methods such as in-depth interviews, case study analysis and thematic analysis, this thesis investigates whether these women ‘fit in’ or challenge the traditionally male environment. The extent to which Australian rules football practices gender inclusivity and equality is also explored. Participants shared both positive and challenging experiences within their respective workplaces. These women shared experiences where they were proud to forge a pathway for women following in their footsteps. They also believed they brought diversity to their workplace and for the most part, did not feel there were gendered barriers in place. However, participants also faced challenges, such as institutional barriers, sexism and a pressure to conform to gender stereotypes. At times, females were also held to higher standards and expectations (compared to males) and showed a hesitancy to advocate for gender equality. Adopting a third wave feminism perspective, this research concluded that the environment of Australian rules football is both empowering and oppressive for women in leadership positions.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Litchfield, Chelsea, Principal Supervisor
  • Osborne, Jaquelyn, Principal Supervisor
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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