Does stereotype of athletic gender roles impact one's choice of sport pursuit?
By Youmna Shahid

Reflection from the society

Sports Choice

Gender role: culture and personal norms for female and male presented to society. For example, how a women and man should speak, dress, appear, and behave.

Stereotypes: targeted to specific types of individuals or group whose reflection of reality is incomplete or uncertain (Wikipedia, 2001).

Feminine: qualities and appearances with women, especially delicacy and prettiness

Masculine: qualities and appearances with men, especially aggressive and strength.

Throughout many years men and women are given "specific role" from the society. The generation which we are living in now has changed for many decades. Men and women are equal for their choices and actions. Today men and women both have power to make a decision without being riddled at from the society. However, if the same actions were taken the same way for sports men and women would be able to make their choices without being discriminated from society or influenced from the society. Today, not only does the stereotype come from the adults and adolescences but it also comes from young children who are being nurtured. Children are influenced faster than adults since their brain development has not occurred to make a choice between what is wrong and what is good between a specific situation.  According to Frederick (2005) "gender differences in participation rates are linked most directly to gender differences in competence and value beliefs, which in turn are assumed to derive from experiences in the home and elsewhere." If we are able to stop this action then there would be many exceptional man and women out there who are able to make a mark with history but also with the world.

Gender Roles and Gender Identity

In this video children from the ages of 2 - 4 are asked their gender identity. According to Schmalz abd Kerstetter (2006) "children show signs of recognizing "appropriate" gendered behaviour and aware of social type stereotypes of gender in sort and physical activity and how their awareness affects their participation choice." Throughout this video boys and girls can easily depict their choices without taking their time or needing any assistance.

The researchers targeted young children due to their development. Children at this age are underdeveloped to make their own decisions and so they follow their environment. Children at this age are starting to go to pre-school or school, while learning they are also exploring their environment. Stereotypes start from childhood with their concious or their environment. It starts to build up as children start to grow into their puberty ages. Even before puberty, boys and girls are still able to understand the differences between gender identity and gender qualities.

Sport choices are sometimes pressured for children because of the environment which we live in. Young children are sometimes bullied for their choices which they make. Boys, especially, are consider "weak" for joining feminine sports. However, both of gender are affected by this type of "riddle" because feminine sports are viewed "weak" from society perspective and also non-physical (not aggressive).

From this video, it can be seen that boys and girls are answering faster than usual. From this note it can be said that boys and girls have an excellent idea for their "gender identity" and "gender roles." Majority of the statements stated in this video can be seen everywhere, especially in schools. For example, when a boy is unable to throw a football boys tend to say "you through like a girl." Not only does feminine statements are found in schools, but also masculine statements towards girls are also found. For example, girls who have masculine characteristics, as in tom boy, cannot make female friends as male friends.

From this survey it can be said that neutral sports had the highest participation rates for boys and girls. However, participation in sports towards gender specific was different between the two sexes. As it can be seen there are more girls who participate in masculine sports than boys do in feminine sports. The finding also revealed that girls are more acceptable for a masculine activities than boys and men if they pursue feminine activities. The reason why women are more accepted than male could be that female are consider in a "higher status" to masculine activities because they gain respect by achieving in a traditionally masculine field.

For boys, indication of femininity, or straying from masculine norms would potentially raise questions about their gender identity and also they masculinity. Therefore, participation in masculine activities by girls and women is more socially accepted than participation in feminine activities by boys and men (Henderson et al, 1999). From the data it appears that girls and women experience greater social latitude in sports than boys and men.

"Boys who participate in feminine sport are consider "gay" for their participation, whereas women who show masculine characteristics is seen as a "lesbian." (Koivula, 1995; Shaw, 199). Choices of sports can be influenced by these factors which a child would probably consider due to their appropriate sex type of sports. However type of mentality was more towards the boys than girls. Girls are unable to image these type of situation due to their social freedom and lower social status assigned for feminine sports and activities.

Gender stereotypes does affect sport participation, however it can be changed by the first step which is toward greater understanding towards equality and limitations from the society towards particular gender.

My Opinion

I personally am interested in my topic since I got an opportunity to explore in something that I consider important. An individuals decisions should never be controlled by the society, but themselves. In my opinion gender stereotype should be stopped in sports because there might be someone out there who is good at something, however they are unable to demonstrate it just because of the gender that they are. Gender stereotype should be taken a step to their right. Men and women should realize their talents and skills, even if it does not match with their "characteristics" And that is my opinion stated clearly.