"The Anachronistic Gender-Sport Imbalance: The Construction of Identities, or Beyond the Glass Ceiling to the Glass Escalator"


Kamberidou, I. (2009). "The Anachronistic Gender-Sport Imbalance: The Construction of Identities, or Beyond the Glass Ceiling to the Glass Escalator". In 16TH IAPESGW Congress, Stellenbosch, South Africa (pp. 97-100). Presentation [and abstract] for Parallel session on Diversity. Copy at http://www.tinyurl.com/jow3pp3


  1. Kamberidou, I. (2009). "The Anachronistic Gender-Sport Imbalance:  the Glass Escalator or, Beyond the Glass Escalator".  Proceedings (pp. 97-100, Abstract ID2332) of the 16th IAPESGW World Congress: Practice and Research in Physical Education and Sport in the spirit of Ubuntu, Stellenbosch, South Africa 16-19 July. Department of Biokinetics, Sport and Leisure Sciences, University of Pretoria, with patronage by ICSSPE. the_anachronistic_sport.gender_imbalance._south_africa.pdf world_congress_programme.pdf proceedings._congress.july_2009.pdf, page 97, Abstract ID 332.    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We've come a long way since the 1952 Helsinki Games, where women represented only 10 percent of the Olympic athletes. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing women represented approximately 43 percent of the total athlete delegation, up from 41 percent in the Athens 2004 Olympics. However, the "glass escalator " (Kamberidou 2009; Williams 1992, 1995) is not yet gender inclusive since women are exceedingly under-represented in all sport governing bodies (SGBs), primarily in the executive bodies of national and international sport organizations and institutions, such as the IOC. Researchers argue that men ride up the " glass escalator " when they enter predominantly female professions, as opposed to women who confront the glass ceiling and the " sticky floor " (Kimmel 2004) when they enter predominantly male professions. Taking their gender privilege with them, men experience positive discrimination (the glass escalator) when they enter female dominated social spheres, in other words they are socialized, encouraged, supported and promoted up the ladder even faster than their female counterparts. The first part of this study examines to what extent gender personification, the structurally secured and enforced gender segregation system continues-extends beyond the competitive sport expression, defeating the advocated values of social equity. In exploring the interrelation of social theories, anachronistic biologistic approaches and gender-based ideologies that established gender stereotypes and gender segregation in competitive sports, this paper renegotiates sport identity and corporeality in ways that reflect the processes of change in the construction of new sport identities: e.g. gender fluidity, men's participation in women's sports, respect for diversity, normalizing bodies and identities, bionic athletes, 'naturality' versus artificiality, emerging technologies used to enhance performance in competitive sports. (Miah 2005, et al.) Current discussions on the gender subject, no longer focus exclusively on the biological gender (sex), as an analytical category, but on the social gender (Kimmel 2004, McNay 2000) which formulates, defines and redefines identity, according to evolving socio-cultural interpretations. In the new theoretical framework, gender identity and corporeality are being rediscovered and are under reconstruction, namely viewed as linguistic conceptions, socio-cultural manifestations, transformable meanings and evolving elements of change. Such an example is men's participation in rhythmic gymnastics (Tsopani et al. 2006, Kamberidou, Tsopani, Dallas, Patsantaras 2009), despite gender stereotypes that depict the sport as unacceptable for the image of masculinity, including the male body aesthetic. In light of the growing participation of men in the competitive sport of rhythmic gymnastics—on national and international levels— in Japan, Australia, Canada, the US, Russia, Greece and Italy,