An ironic imbalance: Coaching opportunities and gender in women’s artistic gymnastics in Australia and New Zealand

Roslyn Kerr, Georgia Cervin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) is a sport designed specifically for women. With roots in ballet, calisthenics and eugenics, it was meant to showcase femininity, beauty, and encourage healthy bodies for motherhood, therefore offering socially acceptable sporting opportunities for females. This paper considers whether such sporting opportunities extended to female coaches. We examine the recruitment patterns in relation to gender of some of the top coaches in Australia and New Zealand since the 1980s, who are predominantly migrants. Using archival sources, interviews and personal experience, this paper argues that while so-called feminine or artistic sports can offer greater opportunities for female coaches, WAG in Australia and New Zealand remains dominated by male coaches, who have held the majority of the head coach positions and in many cases, been actively recruited from overseas. The few females who have been employed in top positions have been appointments of ‘convenience’ rather than reflective of a shift away from these gendered employment patterns. Thus, while its creation as a specifically feminine sport may lead WAG to be viewed as a site of increased opportunities for women coaches, deeper exploration reveals an unresolved tension between the use of male and female coaches. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2139-2152
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Volume33
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2016

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