Date of Completion


Embargo Period



youth sport, gender, leadership

Major Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Bruening

Associate Advisor

Dr. Laura Burton

Associate Advisor

Dr. Shannon Kerwin

Associate Advisor

Dr. Robin Grenier

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Sport has long been considered a male domain (Koivula, 1995) and rates of female coaches and women in leadership positions within sport organizations remain relatively low at the various levels (Acosta & Carpenter, 2012; Lavoi, 2009), including youth sport (Messner & Bozada-Deas, 2009). Positions within youth sport are often gendered, with men taking on the role of coach while women remain in less prestigious and powerful positions such as "team mom" (Messner & Bozada-Deas, 2009). Social (Fallon & Jome, 2007; Claringbould & Knoppers, 2007) factors influence women’s decisions to enter leadership positions as well as the acceptance, or lack thereof, once women enter those positions. Therefore, the purpose of the study is to examine board members’ understanding, expression, and interpretation of gender within an all-girls’ hockey program. Social cognitive theory (Bussey & Bandura, 1999) and role congruity theory (Eagly & Karau, 2002) framed the examination of the learning processes, and gendered assumptions related to leadership. Results indicated that board members perpetuate gendered norms at the level of the board by relying on informal business processes that serve to reinforce the idea that men are better suited for leadership positions than women. Specifically, board members subscribe to traditional notions of masculine traits as necessary for board members and held perceptions concerning gender that impacted decisions made concerning recruitment of board members. Furthermore, board members hold gendered beliefs about the athletes in their league that reinforce traditional gender ideologies, impacting the decisions made and direction of the club.