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Race, Gender and Interuniversity Athletics: Black Female Student Athletes in Canadian Higher Education

Abstract: Despite the documented history of women's athletics and minority students' participation in Canadian postsecondary institutions, little is known about Black female student athletes and their experiences within Canadian higher education. This dearth of information is paradoxical considering the academic and athletic legacy of this subgroup, as well as the noted importance of the student experience and athletic participation within Canadian universities. The aim of the study was to gather data on the experiences of Black female undergraduate students involved in varsity athletics. The goal was to gain an understanding of their experiences as students, as athletes, and as Black women. Additionally, the study intended to help fill a gap in the existing literature on race, sport, and the student experience in the Canadian context. The study employed an intersectional framework to examine how race, gender, athleticism and the student role intersect to shape the student experience. The investigation utilized a mixed method approach consisting of an online survey and in-depth interviews. This national study included participants from each of the four Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) regions. Twenty-eight Black female student athletes completed the online survey, while an additional thirty-two Black female student athletes were interviewed. The findings were divided into seven major themes: University Expectations versus Reality, Pressure and Positivity, Complex Relationships, Unique Experiences, Negotiating and Navigating, Hiding and Highlighting and Levels of Blackness. In a number of ways, the Black Canadian female student athlete's experience is similar to that of other student athletes. However, it also was found that Black female student athletes have a unique experience due to the intersection of their race, gender and athleticism. Thus, Black female student athletes have a distinct experience as they deal with racial, gender, and athletic stereotypes; the underrepresentation of Black females and Black female athletes in higher education; the intricacies of Black dating and intimate relationships; and the complex interactions within the Black communities on campus.

Author: Vivian Chan

Source: University of Toronto - TSpace

Size: 14.01 MB
Last Updated: August 4, 2015