New research to boost gender equality in sport
The research team will work with high performance male and female athletes based in Wales, and their coaches, to understand how gender affects athlete needs and expectations within the coach-athlete relationship and will support coaches in establishing a culture of equality. Dr Leanne Norman, a Senior Research Fellow in the University’s Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, will lead the study.
To achieve effective or improved performance, coaches need to tailor their practices to the individual needs of their athlete and be flexible to suit their athletes’ different needs and expectations. However, less is known as to the connection between athlete preferences, experiences and the gender of the athlete and/or coach. There is currently very little research available to show how coaches (and coaching) can positively influence male and female athletes’ continued participation and development in performance sport.
Dr Leanne Norman explained: “In the UK, participation in competitive sport is less equal between men and women; women are underrepresented in competitive sport relative to men and in some cases, for example, in organised sports, women’s participation is on the decline. Our evidence suggests the coaching process may be heard, seen and received differently between men and women.
“One barrier that has been recently cited that prevents more female athletes from progressing in sport is the need for improvement in coaches’ relational expertise. The present research supports these priorities by furthering knowledge into how coaches can improve their relational expertise with their athletes and how they tailor and individualise their practices to the needs of the men and women they coach. This will contribute to both the professional development of the coaches themselves, as well as scaffold positive and effective coach-athlete relationships which will more likely result in advancing athlete development and achievement.”
Dr Norman will work alongside Professor Anne Flintoff and AJ Rankin on the project, which forms part of Sport Wales’s Illuminate research scheme. The scheme aims to support innovative new research that sheds light on issues around sport and physical activity in Wales.