Sunday, January 16, 2005

Women & Sport

Much thanks to Davina for sending me this link -

The Observer's got a piece about encouragining girls in school to enjoy PE and physical sport, as:

Health experts are now warning that the trend [girls shunning sport] has profound health implications for women in later life because people who do not get into the habit of being physically active as teenagers usually take little or no exercise as adults, and run a much higher risk of obesity, heart disease, infertility and joint pains.

I touched on some of this in my old sport post over at Alas. If men and women aren't encouraged to be physically active in equal numbers [in everyday life, in sport, in PE, etc], if women feel socially awkward participating, then you can't make accurate comparisons or assumptions about the differences in male and female strength - you've never got an equal playing field.

They found that 30 per cent of the girls surveyed did not like their PE kit, and 40 per cent were self-conscious about their bodies. One in five said they only took part in PE because they had to, 15 per cent did not enjoy it and 3 per cent rarely took part. One in five believed that being good at sport was not important for girls and that it was not 'cool' to display sporting prowess.

Worryingly, the researchers found that 30 per cent of girls did not think they would be physically active once they left school. They also discovered that girls become progressively more negative towards sport after the onset of puberty.

Completely unsurprising. Ah, puberty, that magic age when women suddenly, desperately realize they have to fit their minds and bodies into weird social boxes. No pretending anymore.

The great thing about this article is that they did a study, reacted to their findings, and got results:

However, the academics also found that girls' participation has risen steadily at schools which have made PE more female-friendly. Girls-only sports lessons, the introduction of aerobics, pilates and dance classes, and changing gym kit rules so girls can wear less revealing clothing such as tracksuit bottoms and hooded tops have boosted involvement...

Since the school introduced the changes in 2001, the number of girls aged 11-14 doing extra-curricular sport has risen from 35 per cent to 75 per cent, the number of female sports teams it puts out has increased from four to 25, and the proportion of girls pleading sickness or injury to avoid PE has fallen.

Very cool.

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