Women, Self-Esteem, Leadership and Sports, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Project Definition    

In 1972 the landscape of women in education and more specifically their participation in intercollegiate athletics would change with these simple words, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” (Wulf, 2012).  Forty years after Title IX had been enacted, the number of women participating in varsity college sports has increased by over 600% (Wulf, 2012).  In fact, since the enactment of Title IX, there has been an increase from 294,000 female high school athletes in 1971 to 2.9 million in 2006 and from 16,000 female intercollegiate athletes in 1970 to over 180,000 in 2005.  (Rhode and Walker, 2008)  The effects of the enactment have also been revealed in the Olympic and World Championship medals for woman individual and team sports, including softball, basketball, soccer, ice hockey, volleyball, water polo, skiing, golf, speed skating, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, track and field, and wrestling. (Rhode and Walker, 2008) It has also been indicated that women who participate in sports or who are physically active have a higher self esteem. (Woman’s Sports Facts, 1995). There has been much research conducted on this issue because culture has presented media about girls and low self-esteem.  For instance, there were television commercial advertisements through Dove suggesting that girls and women have negative self-images and they started a “Dove Self-Esteem Fund”. (Gentile et al., 2009)

Self esteem is defined as the component of the overall self concept and the value of worth that one perceives about oneself. (McCandless, 1970) It has been found that it is more difficult for women to be positive about their appearance due to the media and the promotion of extremely high standards in appearance, such as the pressure to be skinny. This suggests that a girl’s self-esteem and the way they perceive their level of attractiveness can decrease during the adolescent years. This self-esteem issue can continue as they grow into an adult. (Gentile et al., 2009)  For instance, in a study conducted by Tiggemann and Rothblum (1997), it was found that most women indicated that they were overweight and wanted to lose weight. Women were also more inclined to suggest that males preferred skinny females; however, the men’s actual figure for a woman is heavier than what women think per Forbes et al. (2001). Overall, due to the society cultural standards and the media present in today’s society, females do not meet the standards and are suggested to have lower self-esteem. (Gentile et al., 2009)  A positive self-esteem is referred to as one being happy, successful with high achievement; whereas a low self-esteem is referred to as one experiencing depression, anxiety and underachievement. (Addeo, 1994)

Sports can have a positive effect on the self-esteem of women. Physical activities not only increase self-esteem, but also self-confidence. Woman use this self-confidence as it makes them feel more comfortable in different areas of life, leading to the ability to take on more leadership roles as an adult. The purpose of this project is to investigate a correlation between women participation in sports and self-esteem levels.  Do women who have participated in sports have an increased self-esteem? It is suggested that woman who have participated in sports have a higher self-esteem compared to woman who have not participated in sports.  In addition, the project will also investigate any correlation between self-esteem and leadership roles. Is there a relationship between an increased self-esteem and leadership role in women?

Project Foundations

Women in Sports

Women’s participation has “a history marked by division and discrimination but also one filled with major accomplishments by female athletes and important advances for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (United Nations, 2007)”.  Society has seen a drastic shift in the role of women in athletics.  Previously, it was thought that athletics was only for the man and partly because it used to be a male-dominated world. “Women were often perceived as being too weak for sport, particularly endurance sports, such as marathons, weightlifting and cycling, and it was often argued in the past that sport was harmful to women’s health, particularly their reproductive health (United Nations, 2007)”.

However, since the Title IX enactment, women have become increasingly involved in sports. Society has accepted that women are a part of the athletic world.

There are some great examples of women that have made remarkable movements in the athletic world. It dates back to the 1932 Olympics when Helene Madison of the United States was the first woman to swim the 100-yard freestyle in one minute.  In addition, in 1958 Maria-Teresa de Filippis of Italy was the first woman to compete in the European Grand Prix auto race.  In 1994 Tegla Loroupe of Kenya was the first African woman to win one of the major marathons.  (United Nations, 2007)  Women have also began to take some leadership positions in sports as well, such as officials in the National Olympics Committees, as coaches, managers or journalists (United Nations, 2007)

In addition, the number of varsity teams on college campuses grew after the Title IX enactment. In the 1980s the number of teams went from an average of 2.5 to 6.48 and by the end of the 1980s it had grown to an average of 7.2.  (Acosta and Carpenter, 2004)  In fact by 2004, there were over 2000 collegiate women’s teams.  This increase in women’s participation in sports was due to a number of reasons, such as the generation of females in college were growing up after the enactment of Title IX, society’s acceptance of women in sports, better media coverage on women’s sports, and the commitment of both organizations and individuals to help and encourage educational institutions to provide benefits to both men and women (Acosta and Carpenter, 2004). This has done great things for females in sports; however, there are still controversial issues that persist in regard to society’s view on women in sports.

Woman, Sports and Society

In the year 2007, women athletes were mentioned in seven articles without any pictures, out of 631 athlete articles from the New Times. (Huggins, 2007)  In addition, women’s sports television coverage is significantly less and they are less likely to be hired for product endorsements. This lack of exposure hinders females’ abilities to be role models and leaders for up-coming generations. Athletes can act as celebrities and role models for children all over the world, especially during the Championship portions of sporting events and encourage young girls and teenagers and to participate in sports throughout elementary, high school, and college.

In other countries, such as Africa women continue to be repressed from sports.  Bience Gawanas, the Commissioner for Social Affairs of African Union touches on some key concepts to society and women in sports in the 4th IOC World Conference on Women and Sport (International Olympic Committee, 2008).  Gawanas indicates that sports play a key role in gender equality, social integration, peace building and conflict prevention, economic development, and communication and social mobilization.  During the Conference, it was also discussed that the media was extremely important for relaying information to other women and that athletes need to be more proactive in sending information to the media. (International Olympic Committee, 2008)

Sports are an integral part of society.  In Sports and Gender, Empowering Girls and Women, it is quoted, “Sport is an integral part of the culture of almost every nation. However, its use to promote gender equity and empower girls and women is often overlooked because sport is not universally perceived as a suitable or desirable pursuit for girls and women (Huggins and Randell, 2007)”.  As women participate in sports, they can become empowered and increase their ability to make life choices, with an increase in self-esteem as its precursor. (Huggins and Randell, 2007)  Therefore, the more women that participate in sports, the greater self-esteem they will have which in turn will allow them to take on leadership roles.

Self-esteem

Self-esteem can be referred to as self-respect, self-love, and self-worth (Mills, 2003). When an individual possess high self-esteem, they tend to view themselves in a positive manner based on what they perceive as admirable qualities or they may have achieved a personal accomplishment.  Self-esteem, therefore, is conditional.  “Self-esteem, it appears, is conditional; it comes through personal individual accomplishment or through supposed self-esteem and is acquired through a perceived individual achievement or the supposed possession of desirable personal characteristics (Mills, 2003).”  Self-esteem has been recognized as a useful and significant resource for individuals. It is also recognized that self-esteem is essential to the mental health of well-being of a person. In addition, it has been found that a low self-esteem is a factor in high risk behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and promiscuous sexual activity, and teen pregnancy. Self-esteem is particularly important relating to issues for women due to the societal stereotyping.  Women are aware of the uneven education and employment opportunities compared to men and this often leads to a lower self-esteem.

Self Esteem and Sports

 People enjoy sports, whether watching or participating in the activity.  Millions of people keep track of the lives of famous athletes, such as baseball players or football players, as well as participate in a sport themselves. There are several reasons why people might watch or participate in sports, such as the pleasure of the event, parental or peer influence, health benefits and physical condition (Shaffer and Wites, 2006). There is also a psychosocial benefit, in which is the focus of this paper, self-esteem.  In addition, research has illustrated that regular exercise could improve self-esteem.  Even if an individual does not see a change in their body image, they still may get an increase in self-esteem from the compliments of their peers. In addition, the concept of doing or achieving something is another important factor in self-esteem. (Griffin and Kirby, 2007)

There are several reasons that woman are encouraged to participate in sports. Exercising regularly can reduce breast cancer by 30%; it can prevent osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Girls who participate in sports are more than 50% less inclined to get pregnant, less likely to start smoking, more likely to get good grades and go to college, have a better body image, better mental health with less stress and depression, and teach life skills such as leadership and teamwork. (Barker)

With the increase in the number of woman participating in sports, research has been conducted in order to identify the types of sports environments and instructions that help self-esteem in women increase. (Mosewich et al., 2011; Patterson, 1999; Weiss, 1993) In addition, there are many organizations that specifically focus on the development of self-esteem through the participation in sports. (Mosewich et al., 2011)

Research on Self-Esteem and Sports

In investigating the relationship between physical activity and self-esteem on a population as a whole, including both male and female, it was found that there was a positive relationship between physical activity and self-esteem. It was found that male and female sport participants had a significantly higher self-esteem (p<.01; p<.01 is the power level used in the statistical analysis to show that the comparison was significantly different. Any p-value below .01 is considered significantly different)  compared to male and females who did not participate in sports. (Marsh et al., 1995) Studies that singled out women illustrated a significant difference in self-esteem between women participating in physical activity versus not participating in physical activity.  For instance, a previous study conducted by Guinn et al. (1997) found that female adolescents who exercise have a higher self-esteem.   Other studies have shown that people obtain self-esteem from the achievements that they have completed.  James (1980) found that people felt a higher self-esteem when they performed well. In addition, it is found that there are specific domains, such as academics and athletics that overlap and enhance self-esteem. Basically, each of the domains influences the other domain and show a reciprocal relationship between the performance level and self-esteem (Gentile et al., 2009).

Research conducted in both developing and developed countries have also shown evidence of girls and women who participate in sport and physical activity obtain other benefits in addition to self-esteem, such as an increase in self-perception, self-worth, self-efficacy and self-empowerment. (Chapter 4) Research has also indicated that girls should participate in sports at an early age since self-esteem is known to decrease during adolescence.  A research study conducted by Richman and Schaffer (2000), found that there girls who participated in sports or physical activity before going to college exhibited higher levels of self-worth, physical competence and body image.

Adolescent Sport Participation and Self-Esteem

Researchers have found that the adolescent age has a huge impact on self-esteem and some adolescents never recover from negative impacts.  In fact, some adolescents may be unhappy with themselves by the time they reach puberty. (Stoller, 2000) Therefore, the result of their adolescent self-esteem can have a major impact on their future in regard to high school, college and adult life. As mentioned previously, it is reported that girls can achieve a high self-esteem when active. In addition, it is also reported that girls will experience less depression when active in sports. Furthermore, women who were physically active or participated in sports as an adolescent have a greater self-esteem as an adult. (Women’s Sports Facts, 1995)

Research has suggested that there is in fact a relationship between girls’ playing sports and their overall self-esteem levels. Weiss (1996) indicates that self-esteem is related to how a child is motivated about their personal abilities. For instance, Weiss (1996) found that the less motivated children and expressed more anxiety. In addition it was found that this was related to the positive and negative experiences they had while playing sports. Their experiences also motivated them for future involvement in sports.

Additional research has supported the notion that the relationship between self-esteem and sports has other factors that can influence the outcome of an adolescent’s self-esteem. Research has indicated that it is not dependent on just playing any type of sport, but on the gender role and the nature of the sport. For instance, Bowker et al. (2003) indicates that individuals with a female gender role are more likely to gain a positive self-esteem from participating in non-competitive sports compared to competitive sports. When considering non-competitive sports versus competitive sports, competitive sports are the sports in which competition is against each other for awards and standings. This is evident in study conducted on the self-esteem of girls who participate in competitive gymnastics verses non-competitive recreational gymnastics. It was found that the girls in the age group 10-13 who participated in competitive gymnastics had a lower self-esteem than the girls who participated in recreational gymnastics. The researchers indicate that the possible factors are the increasing level of competition, stress, longer practices, and stricter coaching. (Amac et al.)

It is possible that certain highly competitive and strict sports, such as gymnastics may have a different outcome depending on other factors; however, other studies have found that sports participation in woman and self-esteem have a positive link. For instance, study conducted by Jackson and Marsh (1986) found that sports participation in girls during the high schools years was directly related to the positive self-esteem during the college years. The researchers found that the girls had a profound impact in regard to their self-esteem due to their physical competence, body image, and masculinity. Girls that did not participate in sports in high school did not have the higher self-esteem as the girls that did participate in sports.

Another study, conducted by Elissa Novick (1999) investigated self-esteem, gender-role orientation and body image in female undergraduates.  In this study it was inquired about their participation in sports and extra-curricular activities during high school. The results of this study showed that adolescent female athletes had a significantly higher self-esteem and perceived themselves as more masculine than the females who did not participate in sports. It has also been suggested that all girls who participate in sports will not have that positive self-esteem. One group of researchers indicated that the girls who participate in sports during childhood and adolescence and enjoy the sporting activities are more likely to have a higher self-esteem. Schaffer and Wittes (2006), therefore constructed a model to illustrate that sports activities enhance self-esteem in young women who indicate that they enjoy playing sports and for young women who participate in sports and do not like it, have a lower self-esteem. The research concluded that sports participation predicts sports enjoyment, which in turn predicted girls’ self-esteem. In addition, the positive relationship between participating in sports and high self-esteem was significantly negative when the individuals indicated that they did not enjoy sports.

The results from these types of studies suggest that girls who enjoy playing sports are benefiting from participating in these types of activities and it is inferred that any positive effects of sports participation is linked to the self-esteem of these girls as they enter college. In addition, not only does participation in sports benefit as a self-esteem booster, participation in sports promotes success in children through their personal achievement.

Apart from the positive benefits of self-esteem, sports activities in children teach them how to communicate, commit to things, and work as a team. All of these factors are teaching children how to become strong leaders in society. In addition, it has been found that children who have participated in sports tend to have higher grades, better behavior in the class and at home, fewer absences from school and a higher high school diploma frequency.

College Women Athletes

During the years 2005-2006, women athletes were 55% of the entire student body that attended the NCAA institutions. Throughout all of the NCAA divisions, apart from Division I football, woman comprised 41-45% of the athletes. In the 2007-2008 year, around 400,000 students participate in NCAA sports in which about 42% were female. In 2012, there are 9274 teams available for women. Over the past 14 years there has been an increase of 2928 women’s teams. (Table 1; Acosta and Carpenter, 2012) In fact, there were 17 times more varsity female high school athletes than female college athletes in 2012 (Table 2). This has increased the college number of slots available for female athletes; however, there seems to be more high school athletes than the available slots for female athletes at the college level. There is much speculation on why the participation level for women at both the high school and college level is so high. It is theorized that the success of the enactment of Title IX was helped women and provide them with more benefits to play at the college level. In addition, the media coverage of women’s sports has increased allowing women recognize the opportunities that are there for them in sports. (Acosta and Carpenter, 2012)

With the ever increasing opportunities for women in sports, this has also opened doors for leadership positions, whether related to sports or in general. For instance, women have taken top leadership positions such as the Presidents and Secretaries in the National Olympic Committees, as well as highly political positions, such as governors.

Leadership and Athletic Woman

It has been found that athletics have a remarkable impact on developing leadership skills in girls, especially when introduced during middle school. Leadership characteristics can be referred to as the different personal qualities, including self-esteem, determination, organization skills, focus, self-discipline, time management, self-confidence, social confidence, and sensitivity to the needs of others. (Hart et al., 2003)  Several studies have shown that leadership skills are developed and broadened during early adolescence and evolve throughout their childhood years into adulthood (Dorrance, 1996; Simon & Martens, 1979; Shields & Bredemeir, 1995). One interesting fact was indicated by the Feminist Research Center (2001). They indicated that 80% of the female executives in the Fortune 500 companies were former athletes during their adolescent years; however, according to the Harvard Business Review, there is a lack of women in leadership positions in the United States. Out of the Fortune 500 companies, including chairman, executives, officers or presidents, only 6% of the individuals are women. (Eagly and Carli) Now, 80% of that 6% were former athletes, but there is still a need for more women to occupy the leadership positions.

Is it true that women who played sports develop these skills? From both research and personal stories, it is believed that sports, in fact, helps women develop leadership skills. For instance, a retired Senior Vice President from a health insurance company indicated that she ran a huge business for employers in more than 30 states.  She also indicated that she was able to lead others and create a working team and that those leadership skills began when she joined a basketball team in the fifth grade and proceeded to play throughout college.  Upon asked what she felt helped build these skills, she noted that she was a point guard and was in charge of setting up plays and creating a strategy.  (Wilcox, 2010)

According to Kouzes and Posner’s (2007), “The Leadership Challenge”, the best personal leadership experiences found by people were from following a path that was more pioneering instead a simple path. Kouzes and Posner (2007) indicate that leadership is a relationship between people who want to lead and people who want to follow. The authors also write about leaders taking on risks and learning from their wins and losses, as well as collaborating and building trust in relationship. Their leadership challenge is directly related to sports. Involvement in sports allows individuals to take risks and manage their wins and losses, as well as form a team that trusts each other.  Kouzes and Posners’ (2007), leadership challenge, therefore supports the notion that women who participate in sports develop leadership roles.

Another indication is that a sports team helps teach girls how to cooperate and get along with their teammates as well as their opponents. In sports, there are specific rules that need to be followed, which is also necessary in a leader.  There is also a sense of sharing that must occur when playing on a team as well. For instance, play time and taking turns during practice. “If the players believe that everyone contributes to the team’s success and feel as though they are being treated fairly, then each player’s athletic ability and psychological stamina area maximized (Hart et al., 2003)”. In addition, sports helps individuals learn how to manage time effectively, which is key to being a good leader. Understanding and committing to being on time, setting priorities for your games and practices and sacrificing social time is all part of being on an athletic team.  In addition, managing time comes with managing school work and other extracurricular activities in which the individual participates. (Hart el al., 2003)

Researchers suggest that middle school is the best time to introduce sports to adolescents and not only for the increase in self-esteem, but the development of sound leadership skills. Opening up athletics to middle school children starts a mark in the development of leadership skills in girls.  Through participating in athletic teams, this facilitates the girls will to control and shape their lives in a positive manner. Belonging to a team helps make the young adolescent girl feel empowered. As mentioned previously, girls who participate in sports have a higher level of self-esteem and lower level of anxiety compared to girls who do not participate in sports. (Simon & Marten, 1979) In addition, the competitive nature of sports pushes the girls to become more involved in leadership positions, such as the captain of the team or the president of the student council. In a study conducted by Hart (2002), it was found that adolescent girls on a soccer team were more involved in the student council than in girls who did not participate in sports.

According to Acosta and Carpenter’s (2012) recent investigation of women in intercollegiate athletics, only 20.33% of athletic directors are women. Acosta and Carpenter explain in their study that when the Title IX was enacted in 1972, females were in charge of 90% of the women’s intercollegiate athletics, while almost no females where in charge of the programs that administered to intercollegiate male teams. It is good to note, however, that women’s participation in intercollegiate teams is at its highest ever. In addition, the number of female head coaches of women’s teams is at the highest number ever as well. Furthermore, about 42.9% of women’s teams are coached by females; however, only 2-3% of men’s teams are coached by females.

The role of females in the leadership positions for athletic teams is important. If young women are able to learn and see how their female coach makes decisions and performs her leadership position, she learns those skills as well and the coach becomes a positive role model. “Intercollegiate athletics is a very intense and challenging enterprise for the participant and having female role models available within such an enterprise is even more useful (Acosta and Carpenter, 2012)”. How do colleges get more female coaches? It has been shown that the gender of the athletic director actually makes a difference in the percentage of female coaches on the campus. For instance, an investigation showed that the percentage of female coaches is 45.9% compared to 41.9% when the athletic director is a female. However, even with the majority of the athletic directors being male, there has been reported the highest number of paid female assistant coaches for women teams in the year 2012. This also infers that there could possibly be more women that can develop the necessary training to become the head coaches. (Acosta and Carpenter, 2012) This again, is a positive gain for women on the teams, as they receive another female role model to learn and gain positive leadership characteristics from.

Project Solution

Approach

The importance of athletics on female’s lives has been shown through numerous studies conducted on self-esteem and leadership. The enactment of Title IX in 1972 has been a helpful and useful law allowing for the development and progression of women participating in sports and taking on leadership roles. With this increase in women in sports, it is important that the leaders in the athletic world understand the importance of their job as a role model. In addition, it is important for females, all ages, to understand the possibilities and opportunities that are available to them in regard to sports. Therefore, it is important for schools and organizations to make women aware of every opportunity available for participation, as well as the benefits of participating in sports.

For instance, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity have developed ways in which coaches, leaders and teachers can help improve the self-esteem of woman in sports. It is indicated that encouragement through relationships and communication is key. They encourage the leaders to practice a mutual respect with all members of the team, to provide positive encouragement and recognize effort, listen to the athletes and acknowledge their feelings, and to show unconditional regard even if their behavior is not favorable. In addition, coaches are encouraged to avoid any type of sex-stereotyping, such as “you throw like a girl”, and to avoid any type of comments about body size and shape. The coaches are there to encourage and praise girls for their skills and their success. Therefore, it is also encourage for the coaches to praise their athletes for their accomplishments. Another good point, as a role model, whether a teacher or parent is to ask the girls about how the game went, instead of “did you win?”

The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity have also developed strategies in which coaches and leaders on the athletic teams can use to help women gain the benefits that sports give them. For instance, they suggest to present yourself as a positive role model though sharing your own personal experiences, whether life lessons or athletic accomplishments. They encourage the use of training logs with set goals on a timely manner in order to practice time management and commitment, a couple of the key factors in becoming a leader. Another important aspect is to involve the athletes in some of the decision making. This also helps build the leadership skills that the girls can use in the future. In addition, providing the girls with leadership roles that have to do with helping the team is always a good plan.  For instance, think about incorporating your athletes into the role of setting up a fundraiser for your team. This shows responsibility and leadership for those who participate.

Solution

Although much research has been conducted indicating that sports has a positive link to self-esteem in women, there are some findings that have showed that sports possibly has a negative effect on some girls. Perhaps the leaders, coaches and physical educators should find different ways to illustrate to the girls how sports can help and bring positive factors into their lives, such as weight control, healthy lifestyle, self-esteem, instead of concentrating of the outcome of the game. If girls are forced into competition with no other benefits, they will no longer like what they are doing and therefore, not like themselves. This was evident in the study conducted on the gymnasts. The gymnasts did not exhibit a high self-esteem as exhibited in other studies for women athletes due to the intense competition.

In addition, society needs to change and welcome women into sports. This refers to the Media and the amount of funding that women receive compared to men. For instance, numerous newspapers in the United States were examined, such as USA Today, the Boston Globe and the Orange County register for the number of stories, pages placements, photographs, and the length of the stories. The men’s sports articles were more exclusive, longer, and appeared on the front cover more often than the women athletes. (Frankl) Furthermore, there is still a huge difference in prize money that is given to women versus men as well. For instance, in August 2004, women competitors in the X-Games in Los Angeles, California received a prize value of $2,000; whereas, the male received $50,000 for the same placement medal. (Frankl) The amount for professional athletes also varies. For instance, women’s tennis reports that the women’s tennis salaries were over two million for males and not even 1.5 million for females. (Frankl) Therefore, society is playing a great role in how women perceive sports and how this affects their self-esteem. Even when women are succeeding in the sports, their self-esteem level may be lowered due to the fact they are not recognized equally as males are.  It is therefore encouraged for women athletes to promote themselves and contact the media in regard to their teams, accomplishments and so forth. In addition, schools, institutions should be promoting women athletes at their schools from their own media resources.

Discussion and Recommendations

The enactment of Title IX has increased the number of women participating in sports. In addition, Title IX has brought scholarship and funding to women teams at the collegiate level. Furthermore, there has been a correlation between a high self-esteem and women who participate in sports.  There has also been a correlation between women who participate in sports and leadership roles. Women who participated in sports are more likely to take on a leadership role during adolescent years, teen years and as an adult; however, there is still a large debate on why there are less females in the leadership roles compared to men. In analyzing the reason for this unequal amount of leadership roles, it seems that the amount of resources that have been offered to women athletes has prompted interest in male coaches. Therefore, only 42% of women teams are led by female coaches. The argument here is that female leaders are necessary for female teams. Female head coaches serve as positive role model for women and promote a good self-esteem, as well as encourage leadership. It is not to say that a male coach could not encourage leadership skills as well, it is just natural for a woman to look up to another woman in a leadership position and be motivated to achieve similar goals.

Therefore, it comes down to the schools themselves responsible for promoting woman and sports.  Research has concluded that women who participate in sports at an early age develop a better self-esteem and better leadership skills. It has also been noted that self-esteem and leadership skills are instilled through the athletic achievements that the women have completed. The only problem persisting is the implementation of programs that are specific to adolescent girls. A program geared toward women in sports could help promote more girls to begin playing sports at an early age. These programs should also contain self-esteem awareness and leadership seminars. Coaches and parents should also be responsible for taking an interest in the development of these types of programs as well. These types of programs could also benefit the girls who are not athletically inclined or who do not enjoy playing sports. For instance, the President of the Women’s Sport Foundation indicated the success of the “Go, girl, go” campaign at the 4th IOC World Conference on Women and Sport through the International Olympic Committee. The President informed the committee that they aim to get 1,000,000 new girls active in sports each year and keep the previous 1,000,000 girls actively involved in sports. She also informed the committee that since the Women’s Sport Foundation was created in 1974, 1 out of 22 girls were obese, now the number has dropped to 1 out of 6 girls. (International Olympic Committee, 2008) All girls should be encouraged to participate in leadership and self-esteem seminars, as well as participate in recreational sports. Research has proven that an early investment in leadership skills can result in lifelong benefits. (Hart, 2003; Simon and Martens, 1979)

As research in this paper has concluded, there is a correlation between women who participate in sports and self-esteem levels. Women who are actively participating in sports are shown to exhibit higher self-esteem levels, especially women who participate in sports as an adolescent. In addition, research has shown the correlation between women who participate in sports and leadership roles. Women of all ages are more likely to be in a leadership position if they participate in sports or if they have participated in sports as an adolescent or in high school years. It is therefore evident that sports give women the self-confidence and self-worth that is necessary to be successful in life.

Although sports have proven to give women a high self-esteem and leadership skills, there are other reasons woman should be encouraged to participate in sports. Not only does it promote a well being, it promotes a healthy body. Exercising along can reduce disease such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and heart disease. Furthermore, teen pregnancies are reduced as well. These factors alone are enticing to have more women participate in sports.

More research on young women and self-esteem should be conducted. Research should be conducted using young women during the adolescent years, as research has shown these years to help shape self-esteem and start the building blocks for leadership roles. This type of study should be a long-term study conducted before the adolescent participated in athletics, in order to establish baseline self-esteem. The participants would then have to been monitored throughout their adolescent years and high school years, with their level of self-esteem and their participation in sports analyzed periodically. In addition, the careers of the individuals and whether or not they participated in college sports should be analyzed as well, in order to get a better understanding of the types of jobs, and whether they are of leadership or not. This type of research would be an ideal way to establish some more concrete evidence in regard to self-esteem, leadership and women in sports.  Additionally, research will give more reasons for schools and institutions to provide more classes, benefits, scholarships, and leadership positions for women in sports.

Average Number of Women’s Varsity Teams per school. (Acosta and Carpenter, 2012)

Table 1. The Number of Women’s Varsity Teams from 1998 to 2012. (Acosta and Carpenter, 2012)

The Number of Women’s Varsity Teams from 1998 to 2012. (Acosta and Carpenter, 2012)

Table 2. Average Number of Women’s Varsity Teams per school. (Acosta and Carpenter, 2012)

References

Acosta, R.V. and Carpenter, L.J. (2012).  Women in Intercollegiate Sport A Longitudinal, National Study Thirty-five Year Update. Smith College and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. [online]. Available: http://www.acostacarpenter.org/

Acosta, R.V. and Carpenter, L.J. (2004).  Women in Intercollegiate Sport A Longitudinal, National Study Twenty Seven Year Update. Smith College and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. [online]. Available: webpages.charter.net/womeninsport/AcostaCarp_2004.pdf.

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Amac, Z., Anatasio, N., Morwich, A., Yi, J. Girls’ Self-Esteem Comparison in Competitive and Recreational Gymnastics. Indiana University at Bloomington. 

Barker, V.  Time Out. Does your School Play Fair? California Womans Law Center. [online]. Available:

Bowker, A., Gadbois, S., & Cornock, B. (2003). Sports participation and self-esteem: Variations as a function of gender and gender role orientation. Sex Roles, 49, 47–58.

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