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Orthopade. 2000 Nov;29(11):957-68.

[Sex role and sports].

[Article in German]

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IOC Working Group Women and Sport, Women Sport International, P.O. Box 124, Blackheath, NSW, Australien.


Gender inequality in all areas of life remains a global problem despite efforts over the past twenty years in particular to address the situation. In physical activity and sport the inequality between women and men is particularly pronounced in almost all countries, although it differs in degree. Two of the main reasons why inequality between women and men physical activity and sport is more extreme than in many other areas of social life are the result of the close association between the attributes required for sport and those associated with traditional concepts of stereotypical, hegemonic masculinity, and a lack of understanding of the difference between sex and gender. In sport and physical activity physical differences between men and women have been confused with socially constructed differences i.e. physical differences have been confused with gender differences, and this confusion has been used to justify women's lesser and limited participation at all levels. To achieve equality between women and men in physical activity and sport it will be essential that gender is identified and understood as a socially constructed and fluid concept which is a product of the relations between women and men. The fact that women bear children or are generally less physically powerful than men is not sufficient to justify why it is not considered appropriate for women to participate in certain forms of physical activity or why their participation is less valued than the participation of men. An understanding of gender and of the construction of gender relations is an important pre-requisite to addressing the inequality between women and men in physical activity and sport and in developing policies and programs which include, and are of equal benefit to both sexes. While more research on the benefits of participation in physical activity is needed, there is currently sufficient information available to identify the health related and social value of participation to both women and men. What is now needed to ensure equality between women and men in physical activity and sport is the adoption of a gender-relations approach to policy and program planning by governments, civil society and specifically by those "experts" in the field who have the power to advocate and to influence decision makers at all levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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