A new digital initiative from sportscotland will see an Abertay University expert push to break down barriers around gender stereotyping.
Abertay University Sport and Sociology lecturer, Dr Rhiannon Lord, is recording a series of six podcast for the national governing body’s online app, aimed at providing information and training for coaches.
More than 60 people have already signed up to the free service from an array of sports including football, rugby, gymnastics and netball.
Dr Lord, who teaches Social Sciences in the Sport and Exercise programmes that Abertay offer, said media portrayal can have a huge impact on youngsters thinking of taking up sports traditionally associated with a particular gender.
She added, ‘Why are we seeing boys shy away from sports like gymnastics and dance? It’s mainly due to gender stereotyping.
‘Perhaps they don’t want to be seen as feminine if they are going into these sports or on the other hand girls don’t want to be seen as butch if they are going into sports like rugby.
‘As they get to that pre-pubescent age gender becomes more important.’
Sportscotland launched the podcasts to target coaches at different levels.
Dr Lord said the online tool is more accessible to modern coaches than other forms of professional development that have been run in the past.
‘Rather than go in on a course which is three hours and you have to pay for it then travel to it, sportscotland have set up an app and these modules will be on there.
‘Coaches do it in their own time and there is a Facebook page so they can ask questions and discuss the content with other coaches.’
Other universities are linking into the project on issues including nutrition and psychology.
The podcasts last about 10 to 15 minutes and are scheduled up until April 2017, with the December broadcast already live.
Dr Lord said gender inequity was a ‘key marker’ for change among many Scottish governing bodies.
‘Strong role models are also really important, for example I think of Max Whitlock for boys in gymnastics at the moment,’ she said.
‘But there are some sports that are still struggling to find those role models.’
Dr Lord said a 2013 study (Kane - Kane, M.J., 2013. The better sportswomen get, the more the media ignore them. Communication & Sport) showed 40% of sport relates to women yet receives around 2% of overall coverage.
She added, ‘The type of coverage is often more about human interest rather than their sporting achievements.
‘One of the key messages in the podcasts is about what we can do as coaches to close that gap.’