Gender in Sports

Like many of the American Girl doll time periods, todays standards for these social standards are developed during girlhood. This article on Upworthy tells a story about a father coaching his daughters all girls t-ball team, the only girl’s team in the league. As a loving and supportive father, initially he believed the best way to coach was somewhat gender specific, he called the sweetie and honey, discussing whether or not they cared about how they looked and he was surprised by their responses. These young girls pushed against the gendered norms his father was expecting and showed great strength and resilience as children, despite their gender. When a loving father was unaware of his own gender stereotypes for these young girls in sports, it is easy to conclude that a majority of society has them as well.

In the American Girl books we have read so far this year, the girls have all established that being active, adventurous and competitive are out of the ordinary activities for girls. Whether Kaya is racing horses in the forest or Kit trying to do some hard-core journalism, these are stories of girls pushing the boundaries of gender norms already set in place by society. While the American Girl catalog now includes sports equipment, uniforms and other objects indicating the societal acceptance of girls playing sports in present day, it seems that it is limited to a certain time period in a female’s life.


Grown women in the world of sports publicly face various ethical issues like sportsmanship, professionalism, sexuality, pay scale, work-life balance, weight and body image. A female athletes ability to be a mother (or her choice not to be one), not be “bitchy” and her physical abilities are consistently torn apart and nitpicked. In addition to athletes, women sports castors are also objectified, and bullied. The video below is of grown men reading to female sports castors terrible things that were written about them online. REAL HUMAN BEINGS ARE SAYING THESE THINGS TO OTHER REAL HUMAN BEINGS. We do not want our young boys to grow up and think it is acceptable to treat women like that, especially when they are in a male dominated field to begin with. It is crucial to teach not only our young girls but also our young boys about what is wrong with this video. Apparently it is also important to teach adult men about gender oppression within the realm of sports.


8 thoughts on “Gender in Sports”

  1. I totally agree with your post. As someone who’s grown up in a sports-obsessed family, I’ve witnessed and fell victim to male coaches treating the female athletes different than the male ones, often using the excuse it’s because “girls can’t take the harsh criticism” or “it would hurt their feelings too much.” This video clearly shows that women are perfectly capable of handling criticism, no matter how vulgar it is. I think that it’s terrible that we live in a society that women are being verbally attacked in such an obscene manner in person or online for simply “doing a man’s job.”

  2. Being a huge fan of sports, this was really interesting to me. I think that women/girl involvement with sports has definitely come a long way. To think that at one point in history females were essentially not allowed to participate in athletics is completely mind boggling to me because I don’t know what I would do without sports, however it is clearly evident we still have a long way to go to break the stereotype of women not being as good or knowledgeable of sports compared to men.

  3. Good post Kylie! I found it interesting that the young girls on the tball team were not only aware of gender norms, but were actually pushing against them as well. It’s definitely important that people, and especially young children, are normalized to women’s sports. In my opinion, a good place to begin doing this would be in elementary schools – focusing specifically on young boys, and teaching them that women can play, and excel in sports just like they can.

  4. Wow, that video was really eye opening. (I kinda started to tear up watching it!!) Your post also reminded me of a campaign called #CoverTheAthlete. In the online video, male athletes were asked questions like “If you could date anyone in the world, who would you date?” or “Could you give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?” These were real questions asked to female athletes, but asking them to the male athletes sounded ridiculous. The male athletes were also a bit flabbergasted about answering them. The purpose of the campaign is to call out the sexism in sport coverage media, which as you point out, is very evident.

  5. I think the American Girl company does a good job of pushing the gender boundaries when it comes to sports, adventures, bravery, and independence. However, I feel that at the same time they are still enforcing a normative role of what it means to identify as a girl. This post reminded me of the book “Don’ts For Girls” we discussed in our catalog assignment. One of the pages said that women should not participate in sports. Based on this I would say we have come a long way in it being socially acceptable for girls to do certain things, but I think we still are far off from equality.

  6. Women and girls are well outnumbered in many fields, from engineering, to politics and athletics. Stereotypes reinforce these gender norms to keep women in the roles they have traditionally held. The way people (men) publicly talk about women in the media or other platforms needs to change so women can expand into these different areas. I liked your video because it really shed some light on how strongly women are discouraged from exploring non-traditional fields.

  7. This is crazy that this is happening. Your post makes such a good point that we need to teach young boys and men all around that this is not the way women are to be treated, but also that women can work any job that men can work. Props to the bravery of these women for taking a job in an incredibly male dominated field, and listening to these tweets read at them.

  8. I found this very interesting, especially the article about the girls pushing against the gender norms that their coach expected of them. This reminded me of the #LikeAGirl campaign where the older girls had a negative implication from “Like A Girl”, but the younger girls hadn’t yet been influenced by societies views. I hope that these girls from this article hold onto these beliefs and don’t fall into the trap of believing what society says it means to be a girl.

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