NTUs Dr Katie Taylor discusses gender equality in sport

NTU's Dr Katie Taylor discusses gender equality in sport

 September 13, 2022

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Nottingham Trent University (NTU) employs many female thought leaders who are often featured in the media. They are part of a community that shapes futures, carries out ground-breaking research, helps students achieve their potential, and makes a difference to people’s lives and society every day.

NTU's Lecturer in the Sociology of Sport, Dr Katie Taylor, discusses gender equality in sport and provides an insight into the history of female coaches in American football with the Washington Post.

Highlighting the pioneering women in coaching

Dr Taylor shines a spotlight on the history of women serving as football coaches, she says, "reviving and celebrating this history can help normalize women holding these roles."

"Stereotypes about masculinity and power in this hypermasculine sport have helped erase women’s longtime contributions to the game," adds Dr Taylor.

"Yet from the earliest years of this manly sport, women stepped in as coaches," she comments.

"For instance, 'Father of Football' Walter Camp regularly missed practices, so his wife, Alice, went in his place. She made meticulous notes and tactical suggestions to help her husband coach the team, and her contributions were so valuable that the undefeated 1888 Yale team considered her as much a coach as her husband."

Dr Taylor explains that the women coaching male football teams in the years before World War I did the work at a time when high school football was notably violent.

She says, "The Journal of the American Medical Association, between 1900 and 1935, regularly wrote about the sport’s violence, including injuries and deaths at both the collegiate and high school levels because of its competitiveness and a lack of fair play. Thus, these pioneering women were coaching a highly violent sport, contrary to gender norms."

Celebrating the women breaking barriers in sport

Dr Taylor highlights that although female coaches were not celebrated or well-paid, they did have an involvement in the sport.

"School officials often only sought out female coaches as a last resort. The football field was a place for boys and men to prove their manliness; women’s involvement would undermine this. Women’s traditional role was as spectators, where their attendance would be a civilizing influence," says Dr Taylor.

She explains that after World War I and World War II, many employers urged women to leave their posts to make room for men.

"One thing remained constant over these decades — many found the idea that women might know about coaching football difficult to believe," comments Dr Taylor.

Advocating for women's sporting rights

Dr Taylor provides an insight into the impact that the Women’s Liberation Movement had on female football coaches, with increasing opportunities for women and girls, and organizations fighting for women’s sporting rights.

"This progress happened despite football’s continued associations with masculinity, few playing opportunities for women and a lack of coaching pathways for female football coaches," says Dr Taylor.

Read the full article and learn more about gender equality in sport as Dr Katie Taylor discusses the history of female coaches in American football.

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