School of Sport and Exercise Science
Helen began her fulltime, funded PhD Studentship in January 2023 as part of the University of Worcester’s doctoral Programme. Helen is situated in the School of Sport and Exercise Science and a part of the Inclusive Sport and Physical Activity Research Group (ISPARG). The ISPARG works towards the development of meaningful, ethically responsible and high-quality interdisciplinary research within the broad area of Inclusive Sport and Physical Activity.
Helen’s PhD research closely links to these areas, in particular intersectionality and marginalised groups within physical activity. As part of her doctoral studies, Helen will work closely with physically disabled women with multiple marginalised identities that regularly access physical activity spaces, and employees that work in those spaces, to maximise the real-life impact of her research, with communities involved in the study.
Helen will be using intersectionality as the central framework for her thesis. Among the most excluded groups in UK society regarding physical activity are disabled people, women, and people from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Therefore, a framework that embraces, potentially marginalised groups in relation to sexuality, gender, race, nationality, low socioeconomic strata, and disability is pertinent to explore the experiences of disabled women with multiple minority identities, and thereafter design interventions to increase equitable physical activity of this group. Helen will work closely with members of the selected community/communities to explore their complex web of identities and how those identities connect to physical activity related exclusion and inequality.
Helen’s doctoral research will run alongside Sport England’s (2021) 10-year strategy ‘Uniting the Movement’ which calls for strategies that serves marginalised groups’ equitable physical activity access. The strategy ‘Uniting the Movement’ is focused on inequalities among women, those from ethnically diverse communities, living in deprived areas and disabled individuals with long term health conditions; hence the reason for focusing on disabled women with multiple minority identities. Aligning the doctoral research to Sport England’s strategy enhances the likelihood of successfully developing a new line of applied research by (1) situating disability within wider understandings of intersectionality and (2) informing the creation of resources to support physical activity employees facilitate more equitable physical activity opportunities.
The aim of the qualitative, coproduction research design is to reduce physical activity inequities among disabled women with multiple minority identities by creating and implementing resources to support physical activity employees (e.g., gym workers, fitness instructors, coaches, etc.). By working with disabled women with multiple marginalised identities and physical activity employees, together we will identify barriers, gaps in knowledge, concerns and desires of both groups that will become the foundation for creating resources to facilitate equitable physical activity to a diverse and nuanced UK population.
These authentic real-life experiences will be further developed through creative methods, such as ethnodrama, to produce academic and translational knowledge through an intersectional approach. Further, we will create tangible resources that support employees’ work with diverse groups of people in physical activity settings, sharing and disseminating these widely through the University of Worcester and Sport England. Helen has hope that this research overall will meaningfully contribute to studies that seek wider sociocultural impact towards social justice, but more importantly impacts the communities most disadvantaged in physical activity.
If you are interested in becoming a part of my study or have any questions, please get in touch.
Helen’s Supervisory Team
Director of Studies: Dr Emma V. Richardson, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Worcester
Prof. Győző Molnár, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Worcester
Dr Toni Williams, Durham University
Dr Chris Whitaker - Collaborating organisations: Sport England