NOTE: This is the latest in a series of Q&A stories featuring Brock University faculty members who are integrating the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games into their research projects. For more information on Brock’s academic activities around the Games, visit brocku.ca/canada-games
Dawn Trussell, Associate Professor of Sport Management, researches sport and leisure culture in the lives of individuals, families and communities, and issues of equity. Her work is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Sport Canada. Trussell was awarded Brock University’s Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence (2021-24) for her work on allyship and activism in sport, and works with, as she describes, an “incredibly talented” group of graduate students in the Sport, Allyship and Inclusion Lab (SAIL).
Trussell is one of eight Brock researchers and scholars who received funding under the 2021-22 round of the VPR Canada Games Grant program. Here, she discusses her research project titled “Where’s Mom? Investigating the Intersection and the Under-representation of Women in Coaching through a Major Games Event.”
Please give a brief overview of your research project.
This project examines the intersections of motherhood and coaching in competitive sport. Mothers who are coaches face additional challenges that they must overcome. For women, child-related responsibilities are often perceived negatively and imply a lack of dedication to their coaching role as well as future opportunities, as compared to fathers who coach. Women may be forced to make difficult decisions related to parenting or advancing their career as a coach. Working with Assistant Professor of Sport Management Ryan Clutterbuck and lead research assistant Jennifer Mooridian, we hope to understand how mother-coaches negotiate and successfully manage motherhood and coaching responsibilities in the context of a major national multi-sport games experience. Participants will be female coaches at the Canada Summer Games who have children under the age of 18 and/or will soon become mothers.
What do you expect will be the outcome of your research?
Exploring the experiences of mother-coaches at a national games level provides information critical to overcoming the barriers women face in securing sport leadership opportunities. We hope to better understand how mother-coaches access programs and policies aimed at gender equity in sport and the quality of their experiences in competitive sport. We will also identify factors that lead to mothers’ success in coaching roles.
How will this contribute to knowledge or understanding of the Canada Summer Games?
Insights gained from the research will contribute to programs and initiatives to address the underrepresentation of women in coaching roles. The project also aims to understand and address the quality of the mothers’ experiences in coaching roles at a major games event. Participation in a major games event does not necessarily result in feelings of inclusion and gender equity. Focusing the spotlight on a major games event provides a window into the additional challenges that mothers may face due to intense preparations leading up to the event as well as making travel arrangements.
How did you become interested in this research?
I have always had an interest in gender equity in sport. However, when I first became a mother 10 years ago, I realized the difficulties in developing my career at the same time as meeting societal expectations — as well as my own beliefs — of being a ‘good mother.’ Since then, motherhood and sport has been a central area of research interest.
How do you plan on sharing your research?
This project will add, and enhance, understanding of the mothering identity in the currently available information regarding women who coach. The findings may help further develop programs such as the Women in Coaching Canada Games Apprenticeship Program and other gender equity policies and programs. Findings from our research will be shared at the Canada Summer Games research showcase as well as publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations.