TRUSSELL: Balancing motherhood and sport leadership

Dawn Trussell, Associate Professor of Sport Management at Brock University, had a piece recently published in The Hamilton Spectator about recruitment and retention challenges faced by women in leadership roles in existing sport structures.

She writes:

“Although the Beijing 2022 Winter Games are being touted as the most gender-balanced Olympics ever by the International Olympic Committee, the equity of women’s sport experiences still has a long way to go. Gender equity in sport leadership remains an issue, particularly in competitive sport with women often being forced to make decisions such as being a mom or a sport leader.

The recruitment and retention of women to leadership roles is challenging within existing sport structures. Many such roles in the sport industry remain inherently structured to exclude women — and mothers, in particular, are often disadvantaged. Sport operates in a patriarchal society that bases women’s value on their ability to have children.

Current government and social policy promotes and validates “good mothering” as child-centred, emotionally absorbing and self-sacrificing. This perspective impacts all women and their sport participation, as sport leaders or athletes, whether they claim or resist such a perspective.

While the Summer Olympics in Tokyo brought to the forefront issues related to athletes and mothering, and their inability to bring nursing infants to the Games, the rights of mothers in sport leadership roles was virtually absent. Likewise, the dialogue around breastfeeding mothers makes the assumption, and fails to recognize, that not all mothers are able to or choose to breastfeed their children. This highlighted issue also conceals the care work required by mothers beyond the infant and toddler years and is an equity issue.”

Continue reading the full article on The Hamilton Spectator website.

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