Women and Sport: research performed by the Faculty of Sport
(University of Porto, Portugal) and activities undertaken by
the Portuguese Association Women and Sport
*University of Porto, Faculty of Sport, CIFI2D
**APMD; Open University, Lisbon
Maria José Carvalho *
Themes of Women and Sport and Gender Studies in sport are relatively recent in Portugal. The awakening to these issues, either on the subject of academic research and as subject to questioning and civic intervention, dates back to the International Congress on Women and Sport, organized by the Movement of Democratic Women, held in Lisbon in November 1996. Since then, these wishes have materialized, mainly in two areas: the constitution of the Portuguese Association Women and Sport (APMD) and the mobilization of a group of teachers to research this topic at the Faculty of Sport, University of Porto (FADE.UP). This article wants to disclose work done, either by FADE.UP or by APMD, and to share the results with physical education teachers and academics.
Keywords: Women and sport. Gender studies. Research. FADE.UP. APMD
Los temas de Mujer y el Deporte y los estudios de género en el deporte son relativamente recientes en Portugal. El despertar a estas cuestiones, ya sea sobre el tema de la investigación académica o como objeto de intervención cívica, se remonta al Congreso Internacional sobre Mujer y Deporte, organizado por el Movimiento de Mujeres Democráticas, celebrado en Lisboa en noviembre de 1996. Desde entonces, esos deseos se han materializado principalmente en dos áreas: la constitución de la Asociación Portuguesa de la Mujer y el Deporte (APMD) y la movilización de un grupo de profesores a la investigación de este tema en la Facultad de Deporte de la Universidad de Porto (FADE.UP). El presente artículo pretende divulgar el trabajo realizado, ya sea por FADE.UP o por APMD, y para compartir resultados con los profesionales de la educación física y de otros ámbitos académicos.
Palabras clave: Mujer y deporte. Estudios de género. Investigación. FADE.UP. APMD
A temática Mulheres e Desporto e Estudos de Género no desporto são relativamente recentes em Portugal. O despertar para estas questões, quer sobre o tema de pesquisa académica e como objecto de intervenção cívica, remonta ao Congresso Internacional sobre Mulher e Desporto, organizada pelo Movimento Democrático de Mulheres, realizado em Lisboa em Novembro de 1996. Desde então, esses desejos se materializaram, principalmente em duas áreas: a constituição da Associação Portuguesa Mulheres e Desporto (APMD) e a mobilização de um grupo de professores para a investigação deste tema na Faculdade de Desporto da Universidade do Porto (FADE.UP ). Este artigo pretende divulgar trabalhos realizados, quer pela FADE.UP quer pela APDM, e partilhar resultados com profissionais de educação física e académicos.
Unitermos: Mulheres e desporto. Estudos de género. Investigação. FADE.UP. APMD
|http://www.efdeportes.com/ Revista Digital - Buenos Aires - Año 15 - Nº 144 - Mayo de 2010||
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The themes Women and Sport and Gender Studies in sport are relatively recent in Portugal. The awakening to these issues, either on the subject of academic research, or as subject to questioning and civic intervention dates back to the International Congress Women and Sport, organized by the Movement of Democratic Women, held in Lisbon in November 1996. This conference, inspired by the Brighton Declaration (1994), which was overlooked by the governing bodies in Portugal, and so unknown or ignored in the world of sport, encouraged the congress to debate the political action in favour of equality and participation of women in sport at all levels, functions and competences, and for research (Carvalho and Cruz, 2007; Carvalho and Silva, 2007).
Being so far an issue virtually ignored by public and private bodies, the congress was a milestone of reflection and congregation of many wills already aware of the inequalities between men and women in sport, but without call for joint action. Since then, these wishes have been materialized, mainly in two areas: the constitution of the Portuguese Association Women and Sport (APMD1) and the mobilization of a group of teachers to research this topic at the Faculty of Sport, University of Porto (FADE. UP2). This text wants to disclose briefly the work done, both by FADE.UP and by APMD.
A few examples of research performed by the Faculty of Sport
Only from the 80's did gender studies pick the interest of researchers in Portugal.
From the 90's, the theoretical debate about gender issues extends to the academy and is present in the academic work in areas such as psychology, sociology, education, human geography, anthropology and philosophy (Amâncio, 2003; Carmo and Amâncio, 2004).
The inclusion of sport in gender studies is relatively recent: research in sport sciences has not given yet due importance to the structuring character of gender in sport and physical activity. There are few theoretical and empirical studies which combine gender and sport. Moreover, sport is, for many feminists, a world usually scarcely present in their reflections (Hall, 1990, 1996).
Thus, the issue of women in sport seems also subject to a double marginalization that underpins the resistances that always occur when we talk about feminisms and women within sports, and sports within feminisms. If sport seems to forget its gendered structure, feminisms do not consider the social and cultural importance of sport and the opportunity of establishing it as a means of empowerment (Silva et al., 2005; Silva et al., 2006).
We believe that, in Portugal, the Faculty of Sport was pioneer with regard to studies that combined ‘gender, physical education and sport’. Two scientific works, one M.Sc. and one PhD, published in two different dates, make the commitment to this area of research:
in 2002, the first master dissertation was presented ‘Questões de género na aula de Educação Física : representações de alunas e de alunos do 9º ano da Escola Básica do 2º, 3º ciclos de Santiago’3 [Gender issues in Physical Education classes: representations of female and male students from the 9th grade of a public school];
in 2005, the first PhD in Sport Science was held having gender as a topic of the dissertation: ‘A construção/estruturação do género na aula de Educação Física no ensino secundário’4 [Gender construction in Physical Education].
Between these two works and subsequently, issues usually investigated in Physical Education and Sports have been revisited by gender, as an analytical category, including the following projects:
‘Percepções de alunos e alunas do ensino secundário acerca de como o género se estrutura no espaço da aula de Educação Física’5 [Perceptions of secondary school students about how gender is structured within Physical Education classes];
‘Identificação de factores facilitadores e inibidores da prática desportiva, escolar e extra-escolar, em jovens do ensino secundário’6 [Identifying enabling and inhibitors factors of practice sport, at school and out-school].
Through semi-structured interviews, these studies aimed at knowing girls’ and boys’ views about: (1) their representations of the current curriculum model of ‘development education’, and if their representations match their expectations; ( 2) evaluation of the factors that facilitate or constrain their participation in the activities of Physical Education (PE) classes, (3) perception (or not) of sexist attitudes and behaviours in PE classes, (4) how they question (or not) gender relations in the context of PE and sport activities.
Briefly, the results indicated that: (1) this model is not considered appropriate and they characterized it as monotonous, emphasizing the predictability and repetition of the contents (Botelho-Gomes et al., 2005); (2) the perception of opportunities for external practice is different for girls and boys, and girls have more difficulties due to different supplies (Botelho-Gomes et al., 2005); (3) and (4) it remains a certain stereotyping of physical activities associated with gender, sexist attitudes and behaviours in PE classes that result in troubled gender relations, perceived and questioned primarily by girls (Silva et al., 2005; Silva et al., 2006).
Gender inequities in PE classes and their monitoring (Silva et al., 2003), as well as boys’ and girls’ perceptions on gender stereotypes were also examined (Silva et al., 2004).
Carrying on with our goals, we further investigated representations of gender, ethnicity and students with special educational needs in PE manuals of the 2nd and 3rd levels of education (Botelho-Gomes et al., 2008). This study showed a strong and consistent association of PE to the male world, expressed by the overvaluation of the masculine model and under-representation of the female figure in manuals; and also a close association of most of the content to the boys. The manuals convey and perpetuate gender stereotypes. This means that, in spite of what the real world shows us, the manuals do not contribute to change the hegemonic narrative of sport: men, caucasians and healthy. This contradicts an education for citizenship, the socialization of boys and girls in schools and in PE classes. Physical Education, as an area of reaffirmation of a hegemonic masculinity, was well portrayed in the study of Silva et al. (2008); it was found, in teachers and students, the presence of beliefs that make difficult certain physical activities, and very clear signs of a homophobic environment in the development of sporting activities. These signs appear to be the outcome of ideologies and stereotypes that determine which practices are unsuited to the boys, safeguarding the expected and normative heterosexuality.
Teachers were asked about gender relations in PE classes and how they conceive the organization of activities in mixed groups (Botelho-Gomes et al., 2004).
Teachers considered that gender relations are crucially dependent on the content taught/learned; they value the work in mixed groups, and state that the PE curriculum is more advantageous for boys because of their experience in games outside the school. These brief examples of studies, findings and conclusions invite us to a real debate on the importance of gender in the education of teachers, coaches and other sports officials, and on the curriculum model (development education) used in several EU countries, including Portugal.
Portuguese Association Women and Sport: an overview of activities
Portuguese Association Women and Sport was formally established in 1998.
It is an organization of women's rights whose purpose is to denounce and struggle against discrimination and promote equal opportunities for the participation of women in sport at all levels, functions and competences.
Since then, APMD has been represented in the Portuguese government's advisory board on issues of gender. It has also contacts with other organizations, such as: International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women (IAPESGW); European Women and Sport (EWS); International Working Group - Groupe International de Travail (GIT-IWG) and Women Sport International (WSI).
At the national level, it has developed cooperation with the Portuguese Association of Women's Studies, the Sports Confederation of Portugal, the Olympic Committee of Portugal and the Portuguese Confederation of Associations of Coaches.
During its eleven years lifetime, the Association, attended forums, summits, training courses, conferences, and seminars related to its scope of action. It was also represented in the Committee of Education, Science and Culture / Subcommittee Youth and Sports, to set out its opinion on the proposal of the framework law of sport.
The editorial production has been one of its areas of intervention and promotion; we highlight the following books:
Botelho-Gomes et al., 2000, ‘Equidade na Educação: Educação Física e Desporto na Escola’ /’Equity on Education. Physical Education and Sport at School’, Portuguese/English edition);
Cruz et al., 2006, ‘Deusas e Guerreiras dos Jogos Olímpicos’ [Goddesses and warriors of the Olympic Games];
Cruz and Botelho-Gomes, 2006 ‘Despertar para a Igualdade, mais Desporto na Escola’ [‘Wake-up’ for equality: more sport at school];
Carvalho and Cruz, 2007, ‘Mulheres e Desporto. Declarações e Recomendações Internacionais’ [Women and Sport. International Declarations and Recommendations];
APMD, 2008, As Portuguesas nos Jogos Olímpicos e Paralímpicos, ‘ [Portuguese women in the Olympic and Paralympics Games];
Botelho-Gomes et al., 2009, ‘Igualdade de género no desporto. Educação e políticas públicas’ [Gender equality in sport. Education and public policies];
(Silva et al., 2009) ‘Desporto na Escola – Educando para a igualdade’ [Sport at School - Educating for equality].
Every four years, APMD organizes an International Congress in order to promote a comprehensive discussion on the issues of participation of girls and women in sport and to report the lines and results of research in this area (both national and international):
1999, Lisbon, I International Congress Women in Sport: ‘No limits, no barriers’;
2003, Porto, II International Congress Women and Sport: ‘Acting for Change’, co-organized with the Faculty of Sport;
2008, Lisbon, III International Congress Women and Sport: ‘Gender equality in sport. Education and public policies’.
Between 2004-2006, APMD developed two projects: ‘Acting for Changing’ and ‘More Sport at School’ financed by EU Social Funds.
In ‘Acting for Changing’ the main goal was knowing specific cases of sexist discrimination in sport in order to establish starting points for mediation, awareness and complaints. The difficulty in changing this situation, the lack of standardized data and the absence of specific measures and actions have delayed the way of solving this problem and making changes, as stated in the Second National Plan for Equality.
The information and awareness of discriminatory practices based on sex should cover a wide range of people, athletes and decision makers, to enable action for its prevention in a systematic way. APMD worked with sport organizations, federations and clubs, and local authorities in order to raise awareness of sports agents to the identification and prevention of sexist discriminations in sport. The project was developed in the geographical area of the districts of Braga and Porto.
‘More Sport at School’, an experimental project, was developed in schools in the geographical area of the district of Porto, in the school years 2004/2005 - 2005/2006, and aimed at engaging and motivating girls to the continued regular and organized sports practice, with specific objectives: (1) contribute to the reduction of early dropout of girls in sports, (2) raise awareness amongst tutors, association leaders and elected local authorities on issues of gender equality in sport participation and, (3) promote and disseminate non sexist practices in fostering and animation sport programs in schools.
Many people were involved in the project: 2,529 boys and girls from 7th to 12th grades (on a voluntary basis), 118 teachers, 31 top athletes, local authorities, sports associations and a sports newspaper.
Over those two school years, various activities were carried out to provide motivation and awareness, addressed to several targeted audiences, namely the students belonging to the partner schools, collected in the manual ‘Despertar para a Igualdade, Mais Desporto na Escola’ [‘Wake-up’ for equality: more sport at school]. This manual was the first tool in Portugal and is a major auxiliary for the teaching staff on the introduction of this subject in the school.
APMD is carrying on another project: ‘Female Coaches: managing other challenges’ (2008-10), which aims at: (1) knowing the situation of female coaches and the factors that limit their participation, (2) influencing strategic audiences about the need to adopt specific measures to increase the number of female coaches and improve their status, and (3) adding value and visibility to the role of women and their sport performances. Preliminary results were presented at the Seminar ‘Challenges for Change’, held in October 20097.
In the international arena, in the field both of research and of organizations (NGOs), the matters of women and sport and gender studies in sport have been the subject of interest and systematic work for many years, but in Portugal this path is still new and full of a conservative and sexist organizational culture.
Public authorities, including the supervisory board of sport, show a huge lack of awareness on discrimination and inequality of opportunities between men and women in sport. Although these matters are included in framework law, operationally there is no guideline, strategy or action plan aimed at bridging participation gap between male and female sports.
Therefore we must underline APMD permanent and consistent action (representing more than 400 members), relying mainly on the support provided by the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG), sensitive and acting official body on issues of women’ s rights in Portugal.
Concerning research, the most difficult is done, the first steps were taken, with quality, as evidenced by several articles, dissertations and theses published.
The way is made by walking, and we are aware that the contributions already given by FADE.UP and APMD, joined by other organizations and researchers will provide for great progress of the issues on Women and Sport and Gender Studies in sport in Portugal.
Ferraz, Goreti (2002) Dissertação de Mestrado. Porto: FADE.UP.
Silva, Paula (2005) Tese de Doutoramento. Porto: FADE.UP.
Botelho-Gomes, Paula, Amândio Graça and Paula Silva Projecto financiado pelo Instituto de Inovação Educacional, 2002/03.
Botelho-Gomes, Paula, Paula Silva, Amândio Graça and Paula Queirós. Projecto Financiado pelo Instituto do Desporto de Portugal, 2005/06.
Amâncio, Lígia (2003) ‘O feminismo é um projecto mas também um método....’ in: Notícias da Amadora, edição: 1526.
Associação Portuguesa Mulheres e Desporto, ed. (2008) As Portuguesas nos Jogos Olímpicos e Paralímpicos. Queijas: APMD.
Botelho-Gomes, Paula, Paula Silva and Isabel Cruz (2009) Igualdade de Género no Desporto. Educação e Políticas Públicas. Queijas: APMD.
Botelho-Gomes, Paula, Paula Silva, Amândio Graça, and Paula Queirós (2005) ‘What about the physical education curriculum? The students’ views of secondary school PE’, in Book of Abstracts 10th Annual Congress European College of Sport Science. Belgrade, CD-ROM.
Botelho-Gomes, Paula, Paula Silva, Paula Queirós and Amândio Graça (2004) ‘Teacher’s Perceptions of Gender Relations in Physical Education: how they conceive the organization of activities in mixed classes’, in Proccedings 9th Annual Congress European College of Sport Science. Clermont Ferrand, CD-ROM.
Botelho-Gomes, Paula, Paula Silva, Telma Queirós and Sílvia Caetano (2008) ‘Manuais de Educação Física: em rota de colisão com género, diversidade e cidadania’, pp. 89-101 in F. Henriques (ed.) Género, Diversidade e Cidadania. Lisboa: Colibri/NEHM/CIDEHUS-EU.
Botelho-Gomes, Paula; Paula Silva, Amândio Graça and Paula Queirós (2005) ‘Opportunités de pratique sportive selon le sexe perçues par des élèves de l'enseignement secondaire (Grand Porto)’ in 2ème Biennale de l’AFRAPS – 3ème biennale de l’ARIS ‘Intervenir dans les activités physiques, sportives et artistiques : du débutant à l’experimenté. Pratiques, recherches, formations, Louvain-la-Neuve : Université Catholique de Louvain.
Carmo, Isabel and Lígia Amâncio (2004) Vozes Insubmissas: a história das mulheres e dos homens que lutaram pela igualdade dos sexos quando era crime fazê-lo. Lisboa: Publicações Dom Quixote.
Carvalho, Mª José and Isabel Cruz. (2007) Mulheres e Desporto. Declarações e Recomendações Internacionais. Queijas: APMD.
Carvalho, Mª José and Paula Silva (2007) ‘Pela Igualdade no Desporto: dez anos de intervenção da Associação Portuguesa Mulheres e Desporto’, ex æquo 16: 55-65.
Cruz, Isabel and Paula Botelho-Gomes (2006) Despertar para a Igualdade. Mais Desporto na Escola. Queijas: APMD.
Cruz, Isabel, Paula Silva and Paula Botelho-Gomes (2006) Deusas e Guerreiras dos Jogos Olímpicos. Lisboa: CIDM, Colecção fio de ariana.
Hall, Ann (1990) ‘How should theorize gender in the context of sport?’, pp.223-240 in M. A. Messner and D. F. Sabo (eds.) Sport, Men and the Gender Order. Critical Feminist Perspectives. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics.
Hall, Ann (1996) ‘The "Doing" of Feminist Research’, pp. 69-87 in A. Hall (ed.) Feminism and Sporting Bodies. Champaign Il: Human Kinetics.
Silva, Paula, Isabel Cruz and Paula Botelho-Gomes (2009) Desporto na Escola – Educando para a Igualdade. Lisboa: APMD, CIG.
Silva, Paula, Paula Botelho-Gomes and Amândio Graça (2005), ‘Estudo dos preconceitos de alunos e alunas acerca do desporto no masculino e no feminino’ in P. Botelho- Gomes and I.Cruz (eds) Mulheres e Desporto: agir para a mudança. Lisboa: APMD.
Silva, Paula, Paula Botelho-Gomes and Paula Queirós (2003) ‘Gender in Physical Education Lessons: proposals to observe inequities’ in L. Sena Lino, R. Ornelas, F. Carreiro da Costa and M. Pieron (eds) Proceedings of the Internacional AIESEP Congress. Madeira: AIESEP, CD – ROM.
Silva, Paula, Paula Botelho-Gomes and Paula Queirós (2004) ‘As Actividades Físicas e Desportivas têm Sexo?’ – O Género no Desporto, Boletim de Educação Física da Sociedade Portuguesa de Educação Física, 28/29: 53-63.
Silva, Paula, Paula Botelho-Gomes, Amândio Graça and Paula Queirós (2005) ‘Acerca do Debate Metodológico na Investigação Feminista’, Revista Portuguesa de Ciências do Desporto 5(3): 358-370.
Silva, Paula, Paula Botelho-Gomes, Amândio Graça and Paula Queirós (2006) ‘How boys and girls perceive gender relations in PE classes’, pp 390 in H. Hoppelar, T. Reilly, E. Tsolakidis, , L. Gfeller, S. Klossner (eds) Book of Abstracts 11th Annual Congress European College of Sport Science 06. Lausanne: ECSS.
Silva, Paula, Paula Botelho-Gomes, and Paula Queirós (2006) ‘Educação Física, Desporto e Género: o caminho percorrido na Faculdade de Desporto da Universidade do Porto (Portugal)’, Movimento 12(1): 31-58.
Silva, Paula; Paula Botelho–Gomes and Silvana Goellner (2008) ‘Educação Física no sistema educativo português: um espaço de reafirmação da masculinidade hegemônica’, Revista Brasileira. Educação Física e Esporte 22(3): 219-233.
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digital · Año 15 · N° 144 | Buenos Aires,
Mayo de 2010