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Reviewed by:
  • Gender and Sport: Changes and Challenges ed. by Pfister, Gertrud and Mari Kristin Sisjord
  • Lena Krone
Pfister, Gertrud and Mari Kristin Sisjord, eds. Gender and Sport: Changes and Challenges. Münster: Waxmann, 2013. Pp. 276. Illustrations and index. €38 pb.

Gender and sport has been the subject of sociological research for years. The significance of gender, gender hierarchies, and their impact on the possibilities of participating in sports is not without controversy. Gender and Sport: Changes and Challenges edited by Gertrud Pfister and Mari Kristin Sisjord takes current discussions concerning gender and sport into account, using a woman’s perspective, and offering readers insights into new scientific findings. The book places special focus on processes of change, traces historical development, and discloses still existing research desiderata.

The editors’ volume is dedicated to Kari Fasting, an outstanding character who for decades engaged herself for the demands of women in sports and for gender equality on all levels, to mark her seventieth birthday. Each author from various European and North American countries has a special relationship to Fasting: they are (former) Ph.D. students, colleagues or long-time companions of the honored and are therefore a living proof of the international activities and appreciation of Fasting. [End Page 525]

The volume is divided into six chapters, each one addressing a different topic. Chapter 1 “Gender and Sport in a Historical Perspective” focuses on women’s and gender history from a personal perspective of the author. M. Ann Hall shows differences as well as similarities in women’s and gender history, relates them to developments in the history of sport, and discusses current releases in this area of research.

Women’s particular challenges to assert and establish oneself in traditionally male domains as well as men’s roles in these areas are addressed in Chapter 2, titled “Gender, Sport and Power: Women as Leaders and Coaches.” Jordi Hovden, Johanna A. Adriaansen, and Gertrud Pfister provide insight into the work of female coaches, club presidents, and discuss the roles of male colleagues in sport governance. By taking a female athlete’s perspective, the authors of Chapter 3, “Women in Men’s Sports,” analyze the conditions for female athletes, who participate in disciplines that are socially still regarded as male sports. In this part of the book, special attention is paid to the media’s ambiguous role. On the one hand, media has the power to generate public interest for athletes; on the other hand it demands the individual, who’s in the focus, engage her/himself with the predominantly male-dominated workmanship of media culture. Bente Ovèdie Skogvang, Mari Kristin Sisjord, and Gerd von der Lippe present various field reports of former or still active soccer, snowboard, beach volleyball or boxing athletes.

Under the banner “Health Issues: Harassment, Homophobia and Empowerment,” Chapter 4 takes a look at the physical and mental health of athletes as well as on its protection and preservation. Heidi Eng’s work offers an insight into the Hullabaloo, a gay handball team, competing in the third Norwegian league. The players report about their experiences as homosexual athletes, the reactions of the sporting environment, and the special challenges for the players to openly counter the heteronormative patterns of sports. Stiliani “Ani” Chroni and Carole A. Oglesby dedicate their articles to a very critical matter: sexual harassment and sexual assaults in sports, sources of danger, forms of handling and managing incidents of victimizations, and safety precautions for female and male athletes.

Sheila Scraton opens part 5 of the book, “Doing Gender in Physical Education: Contested Discourses and Practices,” by raising the question: Does gender still matter? Of course (!) she and the other two authors of this chapter, Fiona Dowling and Kristin Walseth, answer. They all confirm an increasing research interest and the progression of feminism and gender studies. However, it seems as if the theoretical debates improvement has not yet reached the practical field of sports to the same extent. Reports from the daily routine of a physical education teacher educator (Dowling) affirm the ongoing dominance of the physical, biological, and behavioral science “at the expense of knowledge about the social body” (p. 224). Walseth illuminates the significance of...


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pp. 525-526
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