Donna Cumming’s MA Thesis Proposal

Title:“Gender in Sport Leadership: Experiences and Intentions of Elite Women Hockey Players”

Supervisor: Dr. Andrea Bundon
Committee members: Dr. Erica Bennett, Dr. Moss Norman

Abstract: The underrepresentation of women in sport leadership roles is recognized by researchers as a significant barrier to achieving gender equity in sport (Burton & Leberman, 2017a). This issue is even more prevalent in male-dominated sports such as ice hockey, where women represent less than 5% of coaches in Canada (Hockey Canada, 2020). While there is extensive research that documents the barriers and supports for women in sport leadership, few studies have examined this issue from the perspective of potential future sport leaders, namely varsity women athletes. Further, no existing research has explored this topic in a Canadian hockey-specific context. My proposed research will examine the sport leadership experiences and perceptions of Canadian varsity women hockey players and their intentions for involvement in sport leadership post-graduation. Using a critical feminist lens, I will address the following research questions: 1) How do elite women hockey players perceive leadership and leadership roles in sport? 2) What intentions do women hockey players have to obtain or maintain a leadership role in the hockey community post-retirement from elite hockey? 3) How and to what extent do elite women hockey players perceive their leadership intentions to be shaped by their gendered experiences in sport and sport leadership? My research design will include semi-structured interviews and focus groups which will be analyzed through a reflexive thematic analysis. My primary objective in conducting this research is to bridge the gap between sport leadership research and women in hockey research to highlight the experiences of women hockey players and understand their perspectives as potential future sport leaders.