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Female Discrimination and Sexism in Sports and Leisure: A study on female golfers’ experience in a male dominated sport, in perspective of leisure activity.

Written by: Kindstedt, Marcus

University: Lincoln

While golf has for centuries been considered a male dominated activity, several inequality issues have been brought up to the media’s attention during the recent years, showcasing the unequal treatment and discrimination towards female club members, visitors and tourists. The purpose of this conference paper is to discuss how women adapt to these types of environment and how it affects their participation in golf as a leisure activity.

Keywords: Leisure, Sexism, Gender, Golf, Discrimination

In this paper, the theories of Jun and Kyle (2012) and Reis and Correia (2013) are discussed. These theories discover different identities people adapt depending on their environment e.g. work and home. This was applied as a significant factor in acceptance of female golfers. What this statement argues, is that women are well accepted as equally skilled golfers, if they adapt a masculine and independent identity (Jun and Kyle, 2012). Furthermore, Reis and Correia (2013) discussed the identities of female golfers from two perspectives, one being from a professional competitive perspective and the other being from a hobby/enthusiast perspective.

Within recent years, golf clubs attained publicity to their policies, to not allow female members at their club. As these golf clubs are stated to be private businesses, the mentioned regulations do not break any laws. This paper discusses this issue further, finishing with recommendations to mitigate the discrimination of female golfers. The reason why this topic needs more attention, is so that participation in golf tourism could be equally accessible for both genders.

The issue for this topic rises from the differences between public and private golf clubs as private gold clubs have the right to choose their regulations and policies. Additional issue for this topic is the fact that the private gold clubs’ regulations argue against the “general” morals. As these regulations divide genders, accepting them could increase the number of single sex clubs and add to the discrimination of female golfers. However, the Golf Association took great action to change the member policies of several revered golf clubs for them to allow female members. This was conducted in the years 2012-2014, which is still early to draw signs of positive conclusions of. However, research prior and after the Olympics in 2019 is suggested to gather supplement data on the topic.

Direct discrimination was discussed is this paper, as several incidents rose from the research on the topic. Firstly, in the USA, five females with an ethnic background, were forced to leave the course halfway their play for no reason. This was a significant event as it displayed clear direct discrimination for the females’ ethnic background and their gender. Secondly, an incident where five female golfers visited a Grandview golf club in Pennsylvania, USA, gained great media attention in 2018. These women were of ethnic minority, which is suspected of being the reason they were asked to leave the premise. The official statement from the golf club was that they asked the women to leave because of their slow play, which is a stereotype for female players (Allen-Collinson et al., 2012). This type of discrimination should be shown zero tolerance. Additionally, after receiving a significant amount of negative publicity, the golf club apologized to the women through social media.

The Research methodology of this paper involved with an interview of one female golfer in order to gain qualitative data. The research was limited to one interview, which gives restricted information, when trying to identify different identities and golfer profiles. However, the researcher was able to draw conclusion of the significance of identities (i.e. muscular, feminine, independent and dependent).
The interviewee added significant support towards the identity premise of this research, as well as argued with a number of statements. The interview gathered data that supports how women adopt identities to the environment they are in, in this example at home taking care of children. The interviewee did however argue that etiquette rules of what women are supposed to wear, as she saw this as a equal policy towards both women and men.
The interviewee was asked what she thinks would increase equal treatment towards women, to which she stated that salary of professional women golfers would reflect to the industry and therefore increase leisure participation.

Mitchell, S., Allen – Collison, J., Evans, A. (2016) ´Ladies present!: an auto/ethnographic study of women amateur golfers at an English provincial golf club. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. 8(3), pp.273-266. Available from https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2016.1140674 [accessed 25 April 2018].

Reis, H. and Correia, A. (2013) Gender inequalities in golf: a consented exclusion?. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality research. (7)4, pp. 324-339. Available from https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCTHR-12-2011-0005 [accessed 28 April 2018].

Jun, J. and Kyle, G. (2012) Gender Identity, leisure Identity, and Leisure Participation. Journal of Leisure Research, 44(3), pp. 353-378. Available from https://doi.org/10.1080/00222216.2012.11950269 [accessed 5 May 2018].