'It’s just a case of chipping away': a postfeminist analysis of female coaches’ gendered experiences in grassroots sport

Paula Murray, Rhiannon Lord*, Ross Lorimer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


A plethora of work has identified forms and sources of gender inequality in sport coaching. Quantitative studies with psychological framings dominate the literature. However, a smaller and more recent body of qualitative work has identified structural gender hierarchies as the root of inequalities, specifically the prevalence of hegemonic masculinity. Fewer studies have contextualised understandings of women’s experiences of this, particularly at grassroots levels and there is little acknowledgement of a notable shift in the visibility of women’s power and presence in society including sport. Thus, in this study [Gill, R. (2007). Gender and the media. Polity Press] postfeminist sensibility was used to examine seven female coaches’ experiences of various grassroots sports settings, specifically what might be novel in women’s contemporary coaching experiences, but also to acknowledge any persistent structural inequalities. Findings suggest that while female coaches are continually facing challenges borne out of dominant forms of masculinity which remain deeply rooted in sport cultures, they are actively contesting and navigating these by drawing upon performed masculinities. Consequently, new femininities have emerged, but these are fragile, often misinterpreted and can lead to women struggling to progress their coaching careers. Future work in this field should look to develop the use of postfeminist lenses in similar ways, to further identify new(er) femininities which have the potential to grow and develop women’s representation in coaching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-488
Number of pages14
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number4
Early online date30 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022


  • Sports coaching
  • Grassroots coaching
  • Female coaches
  • Postfeminism
  • Hegemonic masculinity
  • Gender negotiation


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