Rhiannon is a Social Sciences lecturer, focusing on Abertay's sport and exercise programmes. She has carried out initiatives in a bid to break down barriers around gender stereotyping. Recording a series of six podcasts for sportscotland’s online app, Rhiannon wants to highlight the issues around young people taking up sports traditionally associated with a particular gender.
I started up my own trampoline coaching club in South Wales at the age of 23. I developed a programme of trampolining and gymnastics in Cardiff, running at local authority leisure centres across the area. As a PhD student, I looked at the lives and careers of trampoline gymnasts, and at the types of issues they might experience. I looked at things like body image in young girls, the fact they didn’t wear much clothes and how all that played out in their day-to-day lives.
I joined Abertay in 2014, aiming to redevelop research methods. It doesn’t all have to be lab-based. We can interview people and hold focus groups – actually chat to people. The podcast is part of that.
Kathrine Switzer who was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967. Women were not officially allowed until 1972. She got away with it by registering under her initial ‘K’ rather than her full name but, when they realised, they tried to pull her out of the race. She’s such a great example of how important it is to always challenge things. People may try to pull you down but if you keep going you can finish the race.
Sport is heavily male dominated and there is a very masculine culture. I tried to fit into this by taking on some masculine behaviours myself but that’s not always the right way. You are able to succeed but you may need to find your own way through it.
Gives us the chance to celebrate our achievements. We are not stuck at home cooking and purely looking after our children. We have come so far. We need to reflect on all the successes but recognise that there are still women in the world with major gender equality challenges. We need to think about how we can keep moving forward.