An Exploration of Black Women's Intersectionality in Context of Athletic Administration

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Price, Taryn
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Middle Tennessee State University
While sport is observed to possess many positive attributes, such as leadership development, team work, and self-discipline, it also is observed to possess many harmful ideological stances that influence the experiences of its members. Specifically, the current study examines how the organizational culture of Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) perpetuates ideological structures based on gender and race, which leaves black women marginalized. In athletics, ideologies privilege a system based on meritocracy, competition, and domination afforded to and controlled by white men (Hylton, 2010). As such, the culture of intercollegiate athletics has been recognized to resemble hegemonic structures based on gender and race, conceptualized as hegemonic masculinity and whiteness.
The concept of whiteness concludes that racism is perpetuated by socially constructed hierarchical power systems privileging white identity and allowing for color blind-ness by those in power (McDonald, 2005). Similarly, the acceptance of men as sole participants and stakeholders reinforce the power structure to reflect the concept of hegemonic masculinity and whiteness (Cunningham & Sagas, 2005; Long, Robinson, Spracklen, 2005; McDonald, 2005; Whisenant, Pedersen & Obenour, 2002). Hegemonic masculinity is the privileging of masculinity, qualities most associated with men, over femininity, most associated with women. Men are considered superior athletes and leaders, thereby, forcing women and minorities into positions of inferiority and subordination (Whisenant, Miller & Pedersen, 2005).
Black women's positioning within these oppressive organizational structures, requires a relational understanding of the impact of their identity on experience that leaves them underrepresented for leadership opportunities and upward mobility in athletic administration. As such, the analytical framework of intersectionality, allows a confrontation of systematic structures that were previously left invisible and overlooked without a clear understanding of how. Intersectionality allows for a unique conceptual framework to examine the confluent nature of black women’s identity as it mediates their experiences. To explore the nuances of experiences for black women, the current study explored their perceptions of gender and race within the confines of ICA as executive sport leaders. Findings from the study support the use of intersectionality as a useful analytical framework in context of ICA for black women, but also highlight the necessity for counteracting hegemonic influences that continue to limit the advancement of women and racial minorities (Burton, 2014).
Black women, Gender, Intersectionality, Leadership, Race