• Tine Randrup-Thomsen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis aims to investigate cultural factors of gender that may affect female performance from the female athletes’ perspective through the problem statement:

“How do cultural factors of gender affect women’s performance in elite sports from the perspective of elite female athletes?”

The thesis introduces a previous study focused on cultural factors through participant observation (Randrup-Thomsen, 2022). The previous study is important since this thesis is a follow-up study, and thus, the significant findings are presented.

The theoretical framework of the thesis consists of the French social psychologist Serge Moscovici’s theory of social representations and the American social feminist Iris Marion Young’s account concerning bodily comportment. Moreover, a critical perspective on Young’s early work is emphasized. Lastly, Moscovici and Young’s accounts are contextualized regarding female athletes’ challenges in a sports psychological and philosophical framework.

The study's methodological framework focuses on phenomenology regarding the epistemological and ontological approaches to the study. Moreover, the study applies the qualitative research method of semi-structured interviews. Thus, three female athletes from the Danish national badminton team are interviewed.

The interviews are analyzed through thematic analysis, and thus, six main themes and nine sub-themes are identified. These themes are the main theme Childhood Development. The main theme Media Discourse, including the sub-themes of Female Attractiveness, Personal Life Versus Performance, and the Interpretation of the Word “Athlete.” The main theme Gendered Playing Style, including the sub-themes of Doubles and Mixed as well as Space. The main theme Social Roles, consisting of the sub-themes of Communication and Hierarchy. The main theme Patriarchy, including the sub-themes of Sexism and Authorities. And lastly, the main theme Education.

The findings from the previous study, the theoretical framework, and the conclusions of the analysis merge into a discussion to enlighten the problem statement. The discussion consists of eight topics regarding the cultural influences on children’s upbringing, gendered differences in badminton, pursuing a dual-career, media discourse, gender inequality in sports, a comparison between the previous study and the thesis, and the study's trustworthiness.

Overall, several factors seem to affect female performance in elite sports from the participants' perspective. Gendered childhood competition might unconsciously affect their social roles growing up, affecting their performance. The playing styles affect their performance, as the aggressive playing style, including the jump smash, seems to enhance their performance. The communication appears to affect their performance. The social roles seem to affect the female athletes, and they experience the men as superior. The pursuit of dual-careers might impact their focus, hampering their performance. The media discourse also seems to affect their performance as the media portray other factors as necessary for female athletes. The majority of male leaders may influence social roles. And lastly, gender equality may also affect female performance, as women are perceived as secondary. The discussion also focuses on a comparison between the two studies. Overall, several factors are consistent in the two studies, which regard the men receiving more attention, the male-dominated coaching staff, the differences in bodily movement, the differences in the communicative levels, and the media’s focus on female appearance. However, some findings do not correlate, which concerns the focus on gender roles and responsibility, the emphasis on childhood competition and dual-careers, and the mention of gender labeling. The discussion also emphasizes the trustworthiness of the study.

The thesis emphasizes future research and research implications. These items include a focus on the coaches’ gender and the coaching career, dual-careers and gender, a correlation between the gender pay gap, roles models, and the pursuit of a dual-career, male athletes’ perspective on cultural factors of performance, the implementation of the jump smash in girls’ practices, awareness and the bystander effect, and replicating the study to other sports. The research implications regard workshops about awareness of the factors for both players and coaches and the implementation of badminton's aggressive playing style. Thus, from the participants' perspective, this thesis emphasizes the importance of gendered cultural factors according to female performance in sports at the elite level.
Publication date30 May 2022
Number of pages70
ID: 471623194