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Separate but Equal? Women-Identifying Athlete Experiences & Intersectionality in Intercollegiate Athletics, Call for Papers (CFP)

Gender and Sexuality Womxn in Student Affairs
March 15, 2024

Guest Editors: Dr. Jennifer Lee Hoffman, Dr. Kirsten Hextrum, and Dr. Valyncia Raphael-Woodward

Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education


Intercollegiate athletics are a uniquely U.S. phenomenon that create myriad organizational, educational, and ethical challenges (Hoffman, 2020; Sack & Staurowsky, 1998). From large flagship universities to small, private colleges, varsity athletics influence nearly every organizational decision, from admissions to alumnx status (Hoffman, 2020). Intercollegiate athletics are also one of the few remaining arenas in higher education embracing gender segregation to achieve equity (Hextrum & Sethi 2022; Milner & Braddock 2016). Yet segregation can never create equality; instead, the U.S.’s gender-separate athletic systems unfold through paternalistic and Western binaristic views of gender that support inherent men/masculine physical supremacy, biological sex-based classifications, and trans* exclusionism (Burke, 2004; Hextrum, 2021; Hextrum & Cameron, 2023; Milner & Braddock, 2016). 


Gender segregation is permissible under Title IX (the 1972 Education Amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act). Over the past 50 years, the entirety of intercollegiate athletics, across institutional types and divisional classification, adopted a gender-segregated athletic model. 

Title IX is touted as achieving gender parity in sports. In reality Title IX allowances for gender-separate programs, sex-based selection criteria, exemptions in contact sports, and/or differential financial investments have permitted gross inequities including, but not limited to outsized investments in men’s sports, sex-testing and surveillance regimes, and fewer pathways for women’s leadership (Druckman & Sharrow, 2023; Hextrum & Sethi, 2022; McDonagh & Pappano, 2009; Suggs, 2005). 


Within gender segregation, inequities abound as white, middle-class, cis-gender women comprise over 65% of women’s roster spots (NCAA, 2023). Race and class inequities across youth, club, and K-12 sports opportunities have meant white, middle-class girls have outsized opportunities to develop the athletic talent desired by universities (Hextrum, 2021; 2023; 2024; Ferguson & Satterfield, 2016; Lapchick, 2022; Ofoegbu, 2023; Raphael, 2016). Because Title IX only requires parity across men’s and women’s sports, the law effectively relieves universities from addressing race and class inequalities within women’s sports (Hextrum & Cameron, 2023; Hextrum & Sethi, 2022). In turn, many athletic departments can and do legally host virtually all-white women’s teams (Hextrum & Cameron, 2023; Milner & Braddock 2016). Additionally, we specifically seek to expand scholarship on athletics in higher education across institution type, conference type, and within governing structure (e.g., 2-year and 4-year institutions, historically Black colleges and universities; Hispanic-serving institutions; tribal colleges and universities; Divisions I, II, and III; and conferences within the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA). 


Rather than recognizing and redressing the inequities segregation provides, athletic leaders, state legislatures, and current and former women athletes are codifying and expanding gender binarism in sports (Knoester et al., 2023). In 2022, 26 states enacted anti-trans bills, the majority of which prohibited trans girls/women from participating in school sports (Trans Legislation Tracker, 2024). The amount doubled in 2023, with 49 states introducing 589 bills; 85 have passed (Trans Legislation Tracker, 2024). Broadly considered a “save women’s sports movement,” the disparate bills are united in instituting a biological, oppositional view of sex in which only two categories exist, male and female, with females possessing inherently inferior physical capacities (Hextrum & Sethi, 2022). These movements do not protect girls and women but instead infantilize them, trapping them in sub-par athletic conditions with normative gender expectations (Hextrum & Sethi, 2022). Trans* athletes are further harmed as many opt out of sports for fear of sex testing, lack the resources to transition according to sex-testing policies, and/or do not wish to transition in the prescriptive ways required by sports agencies (Fischer & McClearen, 2020; Phipps, 2021).


This special issue aims to expose and resolve the ways intercollegiate athletic programs reproduce and resist intersectional systems of gender power. For example, organizing sports according to a rigid gender binary, inequity in resource allocation for women’s vs. men’s sport, disparate pay for women coaches and administrators, and lack of racial, class, and ethnic diversity across sport opportunities. With this special issue, we seek to build critical scholarship on athletics in higher education that considers the diversity of gender expressions; continued contestations and challenges to the term “woman athlete”; how other forms of power (e.g., race, class, ethnicity, nationality) intersect with gender; how sex and sexuality differently shape gender; and the multitude of ways gender is experienced and expressed (e.g., institutionalized, embodied, as a state project).


We invite empirical research, historical perspectives, legal and policy analysis, and scholarly essays on women and gender that explore the broader cultural, legal, political, and social contexts in which varsity athletics are located. We seek manuscripts that advance conversations that expose, address, and aim to end the legacy of patriarchy, oppression, persistent discrimination, and outdated assumptions about women’s empowerment through college sport. In doing so, we invite research that reveals the identities, experiences, and voices that are united in their exploration of the complex and contradictory way gender and sport, with their gender-separate allowances, foster unique, gender-based experiences of students, faculty, and staff. We encourage transdisciplinary and intersectional approaches that may offer social critiques, historical inquiries, legal arguments, media analyses, and organizational and administrative accounts.   


We also invite an expansive approach to sport and encourage authors to see athletics as a vehicle to explore the range of topics and issues at the nexus of education, Title IX, and gender, including, but not limited to: athlete compensation, pay equity and unionization; athlete bodily autonomy and data privacy post-Dobbs; athlete gender and sex surveillance and testing; sexual assault and violence in athletics; conference realignment; athlete activism; and athletics’ impacts on recruitment and admission post-SFFA.  


Sample topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Athlete compensation and pay equity; 3rd party name image and likeness (NIL)

  • Athlete identity and intersectionality among AAPI, Bi-racial, Black, Indigenous, International, and Latina/x/e women athletes 

  • Bodily autonomy and data privacy post-Dobbs among women athletes

  • Coach and staff experiences and rights, such as pay equity

  • Data privacy and content control among social media, biometrics, and other forms of technology in campus contexts

  • Feminist and intersectional approaches to campus sports topics

  • Gendered organizational logics and governance of sport/athletics

  • Historical perspectives on gender and campus sports

  • International college athletes' gendered and racialized experiences in the United States

  • Institutional types and governance (e.g. HBCUs, HSIs, TCUs, NAIA, NJCAA)

  • Legal analysis of Title IX; limitations of Title IX’s gender-separate allowance

  • Media representation in sports, including critical examination of heterosexy feminine marketing

  • Recruitment, admissions practices, and gender in athletics post-Supreme Court’s decision banning affirmative action based upon race

  • Sexual assault and violence experiences and protections in the wake of the #MeToo movement and in athletics programs in the wake of the #MeToo Movement

  • Sex testing and other forms of racialized and gendered surveillance in college sports

  • Sport-specific campus experiences such as cheer; emerging sports (e.g., esports, flag football); club, intramural, recreational, and varsity sports

  • Student support and advising services for women athletes

  • Time demands for women’s sports due to post-conference realignment

  • Transgender athlete experiences and/or access to sport; proposed Title IX policy changes to allow athletes to compete on teams consistent with gender identity 

  • Women-centered athlete activism


Manuscript Submissions

For consideration, manuscripts should be no more than 25 double-spaced pages written in 12-point Times New Roman font and submitted by [August 1, 2024]. Page length includes tables, figures, and references. All manuscripts must be submitted online through http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/naspa_njawhe.


Please include a cover letter clearly indicating why the submission should be considered for the special issue. For more information, please contact Dr. Jennifer Lee Hoffman ([email protected]), Dr. Kirsten Hextrum, ([email protected]), or Dr. Valyncia C. Raphael-Woodward ([email protected]).


Deadline for submissions: August 1, 2024

Manuscripts out for peer review: August 2, 2024 – October 31, 2024

Selection of manuscripts for issue: November 30, 2024

Finalize all revisions of manuscripts: May 1, 2025

Publication Date: 2026




Burke, M. (2004). Radicalising liberal feminism by playing the games that men play. Australian

Feminist Studies, 19(44), 169–184. https://doi.org/10.1080/0816464042000226465


Druckman, J. N., & Sharrow, E. A. (2023). Equality unfulfilled: How Title IX’s policy design 

undermines change to college sports. Cambridge University Press.


Ferguson, T., & Satterfield, J. W., Jr. (2016). Black women athletes and the performance of 

hyper-femininity. In L. Patton & N. Croom (Eds.), Critical perspectives on 

Black women and college success (pp. 115-126). Routledge.


Fields, S. (2008). Title IX and African-American female athletes. In M. Lomax & K. Shropshire 

(Eds.), Sports and the racial divide: African-American and Latino experience in an era of change (pp. 126–145). University of Mississippi Press.


Fischer, M., & McClearen, J. (2020). Transgender athletes and the queer art of athletic failure. Communication & Sport, 8(2), 147-167. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167479518823207


Hextrum, K. (2021). Special admission: How college sports recruitment favors White suburban 

athletes. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.


Hextrum, K. (2023). Ideology of athletic merit: Transmission of privilege in college athlete 

admissions. Sociological Perspectives, 66(3), 565-584. https://do.org/10.1177/07311214221134807 


Hextrum, K. (2024). College overmatch: privilege and the rules of the athletic admissions game. 

Sociological Spectrum, 44(1), 60-82. https://doi.org/10.1080/02732173.2023.2282571


Hextrum, K., and Cameron, Z1. (2023). (In)equity in athletics: U.S. antidiscrimination law and 

the white, middle-class advantage. Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education, 17(2), 136-160. https://doi.org/10.1080/19357397.2022.2060699


Hextrum, K., & Sethi, S. (2022). Title IX at 50: Legitimating state domination of women’s sport. 

International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 57(5), 655-672.


Hoffman, J. L. (2020). College sports and institutional values in competition: Leadership 

challenges. New York, NY: Routledge.


Knoester, C., Allison, R., & Fields, V. T. (2023). Reconstructing, challenging, and negotiating 

sex/gender in sport: U.S. public opinion about transgender athletes’ rights, rights for 

athletes with varied sex characteristics, sex testing, and gender segregation. Sociology of 

Sport, online, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1123/ssj.2022-0121


Lapchick, R. (2022). The Complete Racial and Gender Report Card: College Sport. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from https://www.tidesport.org/complete-sport


McDonagh, E., & Pappano, L. (2009). Playing with the boys: Why separate is not equal in 

sports. Oxford University Press, USA.


Milner, A. N., & Braddock II, J. H. (2016). Sex segregation in sports: Why separate is not equal. 

Bloomsbury Publishing USA.


National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA]. (2023). Demographics By Gender & Race,

Demographics Database. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from



Ofoegbu, E. D. (2023). “Aren't you here to help me?”: Examining the role of identity as Black 

women athletes navigate relationships and create community at predominantly White 

institutions. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Advance online publication. 



Phipps, C. (2021). Thinking beyond the binary: Barriers to trans*participation in university sport. 

International Review for the Sociology of Sport 56(1): 81–96. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690219889621


Raphael, V. C. (2016). Expanding the single story: Black female athlete experiences playing 

country club sports at a predominantly white institution. Unpublished dissertation. 



Sack, A. L., & Staurowsky, E. J. (1998). College athletes for hire: The evolution and legacy of 

the NCAA's amateur myth. Westport, CT: Praeger.


Suggs, W. (2005). A place on the team: The triumph and tragedy of Title IX. Princeton, NJ:

Princeton University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400826544


2024 anti-trans bills tracker. (2024). Trans Legislation Tracker. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from https://translegislation.com/