Dr AJ Rankin-Wright
About Dr AJ Rankin-Wright
AJ studied for her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport at Durham University, graduating with first class honours in 2010. AJ then studied for a Postgraduate certificate in Sport, Leisure and Culture in 2012 before being awarded a three year research bursary to read for a PhD in ‘Racial and Gender Equality and Diversity in Sport Coaching’ at Leeds Beckett University. AJ joined the Sport Coaching team as a Research Officer in August 2015.
With a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research AJ has lead on and made significant contributions to innovative, applied research projects and consultancy work for Leeds Beckett University and the International Council for Coach Education. AJ collaborates with researchers across Universities and practitioners from a range of national and international sport organisations, including UK Coaching, UK Sport, Sport Wales, Sport Northern Ireland, Sporting Equals, The Football Association and British Cycling. Major international projects include the Erasmus+ funded iCoachKids project that has informed the European curriculum for children’s coaches, and the European strategy for recruiting, retaining and educating more specialist coaches across Europe.
AJ’s work is recognised nationally and internationally within the area of ‘race’ and gender equity and issues of diversity related to sports coaching, and has informed the delivery of sport coaching and development. Her developing research portfolio is evidenced by the number of high quality research outputs for academic press, policy makers, and sport and coaching practitioners. Examples include peer-reviewed high impact journal articles, invited book chapters, educational resources for sport organisations, research and evaluation reports, invited guest lectures and conference presentations.
AJ has taught on the ‘Sport, Leisure and Equity’ (level 5) and ‘The Sociology of Physical education’ (level 4) modules and has supervised sport coaching undergraduate dissertation students.
AJ’s research on unconscious bias in sport has informed invited guest lectures on three postgraduate courses in the School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University. AJ is also part of the teaching team that delivers the Research Training Programme, a series of ‘twilight support’ workshops, for doctoral students in the School of Sport.
AJ’s research interests reside within the sociocultural study of sport, including, but not restricted to ‘race’, ethnicity, gender and their intersections in the context of sport coaching and leadership. Through her research, AJ addresses and challenges social (in)equalities, inclusive practice, and diversity related to participation, coaching, leadership, and organisational cultures in sport, as well as the delivery of coach education and development. AJ is particularly interested in the inclusion of marginalised voices and perspectives and has employed a Critical Race Theory and Black feminism theoretical lens to examine the policy and practice landscape for ‘race’ and gender equality in sport. Her research uses predominantly qualitative methodologies to explore these issues, focusing on national issues alongside a global perspective.
AJ’s research has been used as the evidence for impactful outreach activities for national and international sport organisations. A number of policy and practitioner implications have been drawn from her research, disseminated and actioned. These have included informing European sport curriculum and strategy for recruiting, retaining and educating more specialist coaches, and the development of organisational priorities and strategies for improving social inequalities and inclusive practice in sport organisations. Project outputs have been used as educational resources by sport organisations, for example workshops, podcasts, and factsheets, to inform sport coaching development and education, and improve equity and diversity practice in sport coaching.