Behind the Scenes: Kinesiology Students’ Perceptions of Ambivalent Sexism

Kinesiology Students’ Perceptions of Ambivalent Sexism

Dr. Elizabeth A. Taylor, Dr. Alicia Johnson, Dr. Robin Hardin, & Dr. Lars Dzikus,

The impetus for this study arose from classroom interactions of Drs. Taylor and Johnson with students enrolled in their classes while doctoral students at the University at Tennessee. Dr. Taylor had also experienced sexual harassment from a student during the first year of her doctoral studies. Students seemed to lack an understanding of what sexism and sexual misconduct actually were during class discussions.

They came to their advisors (Drs. Hardin & Dzikus) with the idea for the study in an attempt to establish a baseline of student knowledge on this topic. The study was driven by Drs. Taylor and Johnson with their advisors providing input and guidance when needed. Data collection, data analysis, and manuscript preparation ensued with the primary findings presented in this article. The results were surprising as students (both men and women) showed high levels of sexism based on the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI) scaled that was used for the study.

Students do enter college with opinions and views that have been shaped by family, friends, life experiences, and social environments. However, faculty should not let this be a deterrent in developing curriculum to address the lack understanding associated with the focus of this study. The question now becomes what should that curriculum be and how to infuse the topic into the classroom setting. Sexism sexual misconduct are sensitive topics and many times the easy solution is not to address them. However, if not addressed students will be unable to effectively navigate situations that arise in the workplace involving sexism and sexual misconduct. Students need to be prepared to enter the workforce and these are certainly issues that are hot topics right now. Faculty should be working together to develop strategies to implement discussion of these topics into the curriculum.


The culture of sport has historically reinforced hegemonic notions of gender. Both intercollegiate and professional sports in the United States are male-dominated in employment numbers and leadership positions. This raises concerns about the professional work environment women will encounter in their careers. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine perceptions of sexism among kinesiology students who will be entering the male-dominated sports workplace. The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI) was used to measure sexism (hostile and benevolent) among students enrolled in kinesiology-related majors at a large public university in the southeastern United States. Men scored significantly higher than women on both subscales. Undergraduate students also scored significantly higher than graduate students. Overall, the mean scores in this study were higher than those reported previously for other college student populations. The findings suggest considerable hostile and benevolent sexism among these students.

Read more at:

Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NASPA. If you agree or disagree with the content of this post, we encourage you to dialogue in the comment section below. NASPA reserves the right to remove any blog that is inaccurate or offensive.

To comment, you can login to your preferred social network. Comments are lightly moderated and we do provide the option for users to flag a comment as inappropriate.

Get in Touch with NASPA