Gender constructions and negotiations in physical education: case studies

Sport, Education and Society, Vol. 16, Issue 5, 2011


In Denmark as in other European countries, many girls, and especially Muslim girls, seem to lose interest in physical activities and sport with increasing age. However, in a Danish context, little is known about the reasons why girls drop out of sport and which role physical education (PE) plays in this process. In this article we present results of a qualitative study on gendered discourses and doing gender in a PE class at a Danish high school. Drawing on constructivist and post-structuralist approaches to gender and ethnicity, we explore the different opportunities of girls in PE based on in-depth interviews and video observations. Three case studies of three girls are the focus of this article: Nanna, the Danish ‘athletic girl’ who found a balance between (en)acting femininity and presenting herself as a competent athlete; Iram, the ‘Muslim girl’ whose position as a Muslim causes her to hide her sporting abilities and Ida, the Danish ‘normal girl’ who re-interprets PE and adapts it to her needs. These three girls act in and react to a discourse that emphasises competitive sport and is orientated towards male sport tastes and sport practices. The results of this study indicate that PE, with its focus on games and performances, meets the requirements and expectations of many boys but contributes to the decrease in sporting interests and activities among numerous girls.

Keywords: Physical education; Gender; Denmark; Muslim girls; Ball games; Poststructuralism; Sport discourses; Drop out; Sport participation; Femininity; Intersectionalit
Source: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13573322.2011.601145