NTU Professor delves into gender equality in skateboarding

NTU Professor delves into gender equality in skateboarding

 December 21, 2022

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Courage, creativity and collaboration – these are the foundations of research at Nottingham Trent University (NTU). The university's brave approach to research is opening the door to new ideas and endless possibilities. 

At NTU, the brightest minds to come together to reimagine research and find the answers to the questions that really matter.

One of these bright minds is Professor Carrie Paechter. Carrie is Director of the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families in NTU's School of Social Sciences.

One of Carrie's impactful research projects is a study of the lived experiences of girl skateboarders, focused around questions of identity and childhood. 

Exploring experiences of girl skateboarders

Carrie has interviewed girls and young women to discover their good and bad experiences of skateboarding as part of a project which explored what encourages them to stay in the sport, and what makes it harder.

Carrie explains how her research focused on three different skate parks. "We observed what was going on at the different skate parks. We interviewed the users and the users of the sorts of spaces around them," says Carrie.

Receiving positive and negative feedback

Positive feedback from the girls includes how much they love skateboarding and how much it has become part of their lives. However, Carrie adds that some have "very bad experiences" of the sport. 

"They can get hassled in skate parks, they can get hassled on the street, when they're skating by members of the public. For example, having bottles thrown under their skateboards," explains Carrie.

"Going into the skate park as a young woman or a girl, you're often the only girl in the park. Everybody's looking at you. You're immediately expected to perform and to show that you have a sort of right to be there as a skateboarder. And because the assumption is that good skateboarders are young men, then the pressure is much greater on girls than it is on boys."

Improving education in the sport 

Carrie believes that an important focus is educating young men in skate spaces and to make them "think more about what it's like to be a young woman - maybe look at them a bit less and encourage them a bit more".

Carrie's suggestions for improving equality in the sport is to have more women and girls' nights to make time for women and girls to take over the whole skate park "instead of being driven to the edges".

"And we need to carry on providing coaching, particularly for younger girls, so that they can get started because girls find it difficult to start," adds Carrie.

An impressive academic career

Carrie began her career as a mathematics teacher and worked in various London comprehensive schools before moving to King’s College London to research interdisciplinary coursework. Carrie subsequently taught at King’s and the Open University, before moving to Goldsmiths, University of London.

At Goldsmiths Carrie's roles included being the inaugural Dean of Goldsmiths Graduate School and then Head of Educational Studies.

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