Despite the growing acceptance of women's sports and the increasing number of women and girls who are participating in sports, a number of negative stereotypes still exist concerning female athletes. Because the competitive, masculine nature of sports has been viewed as the antithesis of femininity, women who have actively participated in sports have often been stigmatized as "masculine" (Anthrop & Allison, 1983; Snyder & Kivlin, 1977). Past research has determined that female athletes do tend to possess more masculine personality traits than their non-athletic counterparts (Andre & Holland, 1995; Houseworth, Peplow, & Thirer, 1989; Marsh & Jackson, 1986; Myers & Lips, 1978). These ideas have led to research (Desertrain & Weiss, 1998; Sage & Loudermilk, 1979) examining the concept that female athletes often experience role conflict between their dual (and supposedly contradicting) roles of woman and athlete. The current study looks at the relationship between athletic participation and personality traits, gender role identification and role conflict between roles as female and athlete among young women. Additionally, it focuses on participation in individual, recreational sports including mountain biking, rock climbing, snow boarding, surfing, and wind surfing. Participants are 108 female athletes and non-athletes between the ages of 18 and 30. All participants were administered a questionnaire packet containing a demographic data sheet, the Extended Personal Attributes Questionnaire (EPAQ) (Spence, Helmreich & Holahan, 1979), and the Athletic Sex Role Conflict Inventory (ASRCI) (Sage & Loudermilk, 1979). The results indicate that female athletes and non-athletes did not differ significantly in their identification with desirable feminine traits. However, non-athletes appear to identify more strongly with non-desirable feminine traits than did athletes in this study. Additionally, female athletes in this study report significantly greater identification with desirable masculine traits and marginally significantly greater identification with undesirable masculine traits. No significant differences were reported on the ASRCI perceived and experienced role conflict scales. However differences were determined on three specific survey items, with athletes reporting greater experienced role conflict related to those items. These findings suggest the image of a female athlete who possesses a combination of powerful traits and a strong sense of self.
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Stereotype (Psychology); Women -- Psychology; Sports -- Psychological aspects.
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Warda, Carrie Magan, "Breaking the Stereotypes: Exploring Traits of Female Athletes" (2003). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 841.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives