May 7th 2008
Gender-integrating sport helps improve men’s attitudes toward women, study shows
Exercise Daily! - Encouraging men and women to play sport together could help overcome sexist locker-room attitudes and bring wider benefits to society, according to the author of new research published in the journal Sociological Forum.
The study, carried out in the USA, involved interviews with 68 men who competed alongside women in competitive teamsports.
The men described this as an experience that changed their opinions about women’s physical capabilities and enabled them to better understand women and make friendships with them.
Their change in views suggests that encouraging mixed sports at school, college and at amateur level could have wider benefits to society, says Dr Eric Anderson from the University of Bath (UK) who carried out the study.
“We often think of sport as being a good way of helping inform our attitudes to everything from teamwork to personal development,” said Dr Anderson from the University’s Department of Education.
“If this is the case, why shouldn’t the same be considered for shaping our social attitudes as well?
“The change in attitudes of those involved in the study was remarkable.
“Some individuals moving from pretty entrenched sexist views about the role of women to feeling much more understanding and able to develop better platonic relationships with them.
“If we could achieve this kind of change in wider society, maybe we would see improvements in gender issues and less violence against women.
“If governments see sport as a way of improving social cohesion, then maybe the initiatives they fund should be focused on encouraging male and females to compete alongside each other.
“Whilst this might not be the case for elite sport, school, college and community sporting initiatives could surely bring these benefits to wider society.”
For further information please contact the University of Bath Press Office on 01225 386319 or 07966 341 431.
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