“It’s so much better playing with all girls”: examining gender politics within a women-only association football club in Melbourne

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Vandermey, Aliantha (2017) “It’s so much better playing with all girls”: examining gender politics within a women-only association football club in Melbourne. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


Women’s soccer in Australia has historically been met with hostility. The Australian national women’s team is more accomplished than their male counterparts in terms of performance outcomes, yet they continue to experience considerably lower financial support and inferior media focus. At the same time more girls are playing soccer compared to netball, traditionally the most popular sport for girls. Women-only soccer clubs and teams have in part facilitated the growth of women’s soccer as they encourage girls and women to participate (and stay) in soccer because (as many feminist scholars have stated) women-only spaces allow the embedded power inequalities that exist within hegemonic masculine spaces to be overcome. This research aimed to gain a deeper understanding of 'female empowerment' by exploring the politics and structure of a women-only soccer club, and the lived experiences of its members. Stemming from my extensive involvement in and experience playing soccer I employed an ethnographic methodology to carry out the research. I spent two seasons 'in the field' as a player and committee member at a women-only soccer club in Melbourne conducting observations and life-history interviews. The findings reveal how the soccer players negotiate gender and the different ways in which they are, or feel, empowered through belonging to the club. The thesis contributes to the broader sociological literature on female sport and highlights the politics and paradoxes of sex-segregated sport.

Additional Information

Master of Arts

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/37816
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords soccer; women; females; empowerment; soccer club; soccer players; segregated spaces; gender equality; Australia
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