Exploring mothers' perception of daughters' choice of sport

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University of New Brunswick


Despite increasing opportunities for girls in sport, participation rates in traditional sports such as figure skating are still disproportionately higher than for participation in non-traditional sports such as ice hockey. Eccles' (1984) theoretical expectancy-value model has been applied in the sports area to explain gender differences in socialization and understanding parent influences (Eccles & Harold, 1991). The model suggests that mothers will play an influential role in their daughters' involvement in sport and a mother's perceptions towards gender-role stereotypes will be a factor in determining their daughters' traditional or nontraditional sport choice. The purpose of this study was to better understand the role of mothers in the socialization process of girls into the traditional female sport of figure skating and the historically male dominated sport of hockey. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 20 mothers (10 hockey; 10 figure skating) in New Brunswick. Transcribed interviews were coded and themes were developed related to mothers' roles. Mothers were responsive to daughters' expressed interest that was motivated by another source (e.g., father, sibling), served as a catalyst to their daughters' initial involvement, and facilitated daughters' participation in their chosen sport. Regarding the influence of gender in sport, mothers shared their thoughts on daughters and females fitting into and making sense in a changing society and sport culture.