NTUs Dr Ali Bowes discusses a new era for women’s sport

NTU's Dr Ali Bowes discusses a new era for women’s sport

 July 26, 2023

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Nottingham Trent University's (NTU) women are experts in their fields.

In an episode of NTU's Research Reimagined podcastSociology of Sport Lecturer Dr Ali Bowes shares how she participated in a powerful new Netflix documentary entitled Game On: The Unstoppable Rise of Women's Sport.

The documentary addresses controversial issues and myths that have prevented gender equality in sport, why things are now changing, and what the future holds. 

Directed by women’s sport activist Sue Anstiss MBE and Jack Tompkins, the documentary beautifully combines candid interviews with some of the world’s most successful sports stars, alongside key sporting moments. It’s a story that will open eyes to the challenges faced by female athletes and bring hope for a future where women and girls have equal access and opportunity in sport. 

Interest in women’s sport has grown dramatically

NTU Dr. Ali Bowes

With the world being at a pinnacle moment for women’s sport, FIFA has said that the 2023 Women's World Cup will be the largest standalone women's sporting event in the world due to the millions of fans supporting the tournament.

This is of course promising to report, yet how level is the playing field for women and girls in sport, compared to the men’s games?

In the podcast, Ali discusses her role in the Netflix documentary and outlines the current picture for women’s professional football.

Interest in women’s sport has grown dramatically, but how does this reflect on wider society, and does increasing media coverage add to the momentum?

"There's this real narrative of growth of progress that we see in women's sport," comments Dr Ali Bowes.

"And we all know that the links between pain, physical activity, and health, and mental health, and self belief...I think we really want to be encouraging girls in sport girls to be engaged in sport."

Dr Ali Bowes suggests that there has been a wealth of research on media coverage of women's sport and using men's sport as a point of comparison says: "Women as athletes have been problematized by the media in terms of being sexualized and the types of language that they used to talk about women athletes has been really problematic."

Media coverage is improving immensely for women's sport, and it's good to see how much it has improved.

"Women events such as the Women's World Cup take place once every four years, and they're going to be like the kind of flagship where sport is the best that it can be. But we want the media companies or people who are fans of women's sport, and people involved in women's sport, to watch and engage with supporting women's sport over the whole calendar year and over the four-year World Cup cycle. So I guess the challenge is to make sure that the coverage of women's sport at lots of levels, looks and feels really thought through and valuable," says Dr Ali Bowes.

Interestingly, there has always been a pressure on female athletes to do things differently. "There's the expectation that if you go and watch a women's football match, they'll stay behind and talk to the fans. We never have that expectation of male players, but we expect to have female players," she points out.

"Women's sport looks like now in the direction it's going - we only have men's sport to follow, I guess. So the challenge for women's sport is how do we do things differently, and what bits do we want to do differently. And we definitely do want to do bits different...And there are some real pioneers in the world of women's sport that are kind of pushing for that to be the case."

Listen top the podcast.

Growth of women's sport and the strive for gender equality

NTU Dr. Ali Bowes

Speaking in a radio appearance for FRANCE 24 English, Dr Ali Bowes said: "The FIFA Womens World Cup 2023 has started. It’s going to be the biggest and best event yet! Thank you to for inviting me to speak live on air this morning on the growth of women's sport and the strive for gender equality in football." 

A remarkable and accomplished academic

Dr. Ali Bowes is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Sport. Winner of the 2021 Vice Chancellors Teaching Award, Ali leads the first year module Sport, Culture and Society, whilst also contributing to the second year Sociology of Sport, the Body and Health module, and the third year Contemporary Issues in Sport module.  

She supervises research dissertations in the sociology of sport focusing on women's sport, related to media coverage, social media, gender and sexuality, professionalisation and commercialisation.

She joined NTU in January 2019. In 2013, she was awarded her PhD at in the Sociology of Sport from Loughborough University under the supervision of Prof. Alan Bairner.  She also holds a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science, and a PGCE in Secondary Physical Education from Loughborough University, as well as a PGCAP from Nottingham Trent University. She is a fellow of the HEA.

Prior to working at NTU, she was a Programme Area Lead in the Higher Education Sport department at Loughborough College, the Course Leader for Sport Science and Sport Coaching blended degrees, and a Lecturer in the Sociology of Sport and Physical Education. 

Dr. Ali Bowes is a trained PE Teacher, and taught at schools in Nottingham and Leicester.

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