“Can You Work With Athletes as a Female?”: Career Experiences of Female Sport Psychology Practitioners

Rena M.G. Curvey, Shannon C. White, Candice N. Hargons, Myles T. Englis, Katherine C. Jensen, Marissa K. Bosco, Mikaela E. Thompson, Samantha Leavens, Emily A. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The heteropatriarchal ideology undergirding sport has been recognized as a root cause of gender biases across multiple domains. Gender bias persists, although there is a growing number of female sport psychology practitioners entering the field. As such, continued exploration of the impact gender biases and stereotypes has on women’s career experiences remains necessary. Utilizing a feminist standpoint framework, the purpose of this research was to explore the career experiences of female sport psychology practitioners, centering the role of sexism. Seventeen cisgender female sport psychology practitioners participated in semistructured interviews from May 2021 to July 2021. Participants’ ages ranged from 24 to 46 years, with a mean age of 33.2 years, and years of applied experience ranged from 2 to 21 years, with a mean of 7.4 years. Reflective thematic analysis revealed five themes: (a) perceived lack of credibility, (b) compensation disparities, (c) sexist attitudes, (d) pregnancy and parenthood, and (e) advocating for self and others. Participants’ experiences suggest female sport psychology practitioners are confronted with blatant sexism in the workplace that poses professional challenges and career obstacles they have resiliently navigated. This study contributes to the growing body of literature pertaining to women in sport by purposefully exploring the juncture of gender with other identity factors (e.g., age, sexual orientation, and credibility).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-81
Number of pages9
JournalWomen in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).


  • gender-based career experiences
  • qualitative research
  • women in sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Education
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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