This paper is part of a series of research dedicated to specific issues uncovered in sports-for-peace programs. Other research has focused on cross-cultural issues, for example. In this research project, the authors were interested in how to encourage the inclusion and promotion of women in all sports around the world. The authors sought to discover who encouraged the women to play competitive sports, how long they had been playing sports, the barriers they encountered when playing competitive sports, and how they felt about identifying as sportswomen at the higher levels of competition. The authors used an on-line anonymous survey instrument and asked Division I college volleyball coaches to forward the link to their teams for voluntary participation in the study. While the authors review the literature as well as the recent history of many competitive sports for women, volleyball was chosen as the focus for the on-line survey because it is one of the most common sports women can play in college at the very competitive Division 1 level in the U.S. The survey questions were both demographic and open-ended in nature. The authors surveyed 149 women who played college-level sports. Narrative analysis was used to understand the themes presented in the open-ended question data. The authors propose that family dynamics, availability of sports programs, and gendered discourses have a combined effect on women’s orientation to particular sports, the women’s long term dedication to the sport, and at the competitive level at which they play. These findings should be considered before inviting women into sports-for-peace programs. The findings have global implications for inclusion and promotion of women in sporting activities. This research will be of interest to coaches, sportswomen, peace educators, gender educators, as well as practitioners who run international sports-for-peace programs.

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Linda M. Johnston is the Executive Director of the Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics, and Character and a Professor at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia. Her research interests include sports-related violence, ethics, bullying, racial and ethnic conflict, health-related conflict, narrative and discourse theory, and world view theory. She is a trained mediator, negotiator, ombuds, and facilitator. She works both domestically and internationally. She has received grants from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Endowment for the Arts. She had a Fellowship to begin a dialogue between Egyptians and Americans. She has also done work in Ukraine, Republic of Georgia, Barbados, Zambia, Nigeria, Egypt, and in the U.S. Dr. Johnston has served as the President of the International Peace Research Association Foundation, served on the Board of Hands Along the Nile, and taught for the UN School of Peace in Costa Rica. She currently serves on the Nobel Peace Prize task force for the American Friends Service Committee.

Karen Weatherington serves as the Head Coach of the Charlotte 49ers volleyball program. Weatherington has over 20 years of Division One experience.


competitive sports, women, gender equality, sports-for-peace, family

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