The role of socializing agents on dropout and continuing participation of adolescent girls in male-dominated sports

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Efrat Abadi (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Diane Gill

Abstract: Findings indicate that sports have positive effects on young girls’ cognitive and social skills, as well as on their mental and physiological states (Beets &Pitetti, 2005; Blom, Bronk, Coakley, Lauer & Sawyer, 2013). However, the participation of young girls in sport, and especially in male-dominated sports, declines dramatically during adolescence. Male-dominated sports are sports which comprise face-to-face competition, physical contact and reward body-size, strength and toughness. Beginning at a very young age, society reinforces each individual's behavior and activities corresponding to his or her gender role. These gender-roles reflect beliefs about attributes of men and women. In this fashion, male-dominated sports include attributes that are socially associated with the masculine-role, leading to the perception that being female is incompatible with engaging in male-dominated sports (Desertain & Weiss, 1988; Miller & Levy, 1996; Green, 2010). As a result, females who engage in sport experience a female-athlete paradox: either to undermine her femininity and satisfy her own interests, or to repress her desires to play and live up to social norms (Ross & Shinew, 2008). This paradox is particularly noticeable during early-adolescence, a time when many girls decide to dropout of male-dominated sports. Socialization is a process in which an individual learns and internalizes cultural norms (Weiss & Glenn, 1992). One factor that influences both socialization into sport and socialization out of sport is the socializing agent. Socializing agents are people who have a significant influence on the practices and thoughts of other people, and they transmit social norms and values by their perceptions (validation support), their behavior (role modeling and companionship support) and interpretation of these experiences (emotional, esteem, informational, and instrumental support). Exposing boys and girls to separate, gendered experiences, because of gender-related social norms, prevents them from opportunities to discover their various interests and talents (Eccles & Harold, 1991). Because socialization processes occur in a cultural context and because gender-related norms vary among cultures, it is important to identify cultural influences on young girls’ and socializing agents’ expectancies and values about participation in male-dominated sports. An investigation of this process can help us establish an optimal environment for young girls to engage in male-dominated sports. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to investigate the role of socializing agents on dropout and continuing participation of young adolescent girls in male-dominated sports. To accomplish this, Israeli and US female young adults who played organized sports during their early-adolescence, were recruited. The participants completed a questionnaire about the social support experience as early-adolescent participants in sports, and their participation status (dropout or continuing participation) at late-adolescence. Results revealed that girls who engaged in male-dominated sports received greater social support than those who participated in neutral and feminine sports. In addition, girls who continued participation during late-adolescence were provided with more social support than girls who dropped out. Finally, American girls who engaged in male-dominated sports were provided with greater social support than Israeli girls.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Adolescent girls, Continuing participation, Dropout, Male-dominated sports, Socializing agents, Social support
Female middle school athletes
Sports for girls $x Social aspects
Sports for girls $x Psychological aspects
Sports for girls $v Cross-cultural studies

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