Gender and Sport: Promoting/preventing health in our schools

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The aim of this chapter is to identify how schools promote and/or prevent health through the medium of physical activity and sport. I seek to explore not only the factors that can create barriers to active participation in school-based activities, but also how such experiences can lead to long-term health-related problems. Specifically, I will be looking at the role of Physical Education (PE) lessons in the construction of meaningful experiences of being active and how it could be used to mediate health within the wider school environment. There will be a focus on the gendered structures of PE in the hope of understanding how and why girls, in particular, participate in school activities far less than boys. The chapter draws on a variety of research to highlight the gendered position that teachers and pupils find themselves in relation to PE. While sport is used as the context to promote health, it will become clear that it may actually act as a hindrance for many girls trying to maintain a healthy approach to life. There are several key factors that support this argument: PE and sport at school are gender constructed activities; girls are physically less active than boys both within and outside of school lessons; girls are given limited opportunities for sport participation; and girls are more likely than boys to suffer from poor body image and could subsequently be at a greater risk for developing eating disorders. I want to explore how sport and physical activity are constructed within the school environment, which factors drive positive and negative perceptions of the purpose of sport, and the programmes that have proved successful in actively engaging girls in sport and physical activity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSport and Physical Activity
Subtitle of host publicationThe role of health promotion
EditorsJacqueline Merchant, Barbara Griffin, Anne Charnock
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Print)13-978-1-4039-3412, 978-1403934123
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2007


  • Physical Education
  • Health promotion
  • Gender

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