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Research Explores Engagement of Women in Cycling

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Following the success of Great Britain’s Olympic cyclists, a new piece of research will look at women’s engagement with the sport.

Gold medallists Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish have catapulted women’s cycling into the limelight. Yet the sport is still largely male dominated, according to PhD Psychology student Danielle Stephens.

“I am very passionate about this research, not only because I am a road cyclist, but because sport in general is male dominated and I want to explore what it is that deters women from cycling, both as recreation and competitively” she said. “Is there something particular in the culture that puts them off, or is it the domestic duties and the lack of time, having in mind that household dynamics have already changed?”

Danielle is carrying out her research at the University of Worcester and will be exploring the motivational factors and differences in these between men and women.

The research project is one of the first to consider the social aspects of the sport, exploring what challenges women’s participation.

“So far the first stage has been running successfully – I have managed to collect 360 responses from both men and women from all around the country who are practicing cycling as part of their leisure time or competitively,” she said.

The study will examine whether the motivations and needs of women and men are supported within the cycling club culture, what are female cyclists’ experiences within it, and the dominant discourses drawn upon in managing and positioning the female sporting body.

It also looks into the barriers which discourage participation, specifically for women, within the cycling culture.

In order to achieve its aims, in the second stage of the research, Danielle will actively join different cycling sports clubs and observe the environment, including conducting focus groups and a number of interviews with both men and women.

Looking forward to the end of the research in 2015, Danielle hopes that the findings will have implications on sporting and health policy reform, as well as health promotion strategies.

If you are interested in participating in the research, please email Danielle Stephens at k.stephens@worc.ac.uk