From Pucks to Bucks- A theory on women in ice hockey

Being a former travel ice hockey player as well as a woman, it only seems right for me to discuss the topic of women and sports, and particularly hockey, which is an activity commonly deemed as “boys only”. I’ve always had the same reactions when I tell people I play ice hockey, and I’ve always had the same feelings about it myself. Typically, the person would say, “You play ice hockey? What?! That’s awesome!” And then I would feel all awesome because they just said that.

It wasn’t until attending college and having extensive conversations about gender and society that I began to actually think about my role as a female ice hockey player, why people react the way they do, and what it is that makes me feel so… empowered when I receive these reactions.

For my dreaded Research Design class, I decided to write an entire research proposal on the subject of women and masculine sports. My hypothesis? Women who played ice hockey growing up have higher salaries than women who did not play sports growing up. My reasoning behind this is simple: The sports world is predominantly masculine, and so is the business world. When little girls tie up their skates and pad up twice a week, it shows them that they have just as much of a niche in the rink as the boys do. It also forces them to spend their childhood playing amongst the “bigger and stronger and more talented” boys.

Later on, they may graduate from college, and this is where the higher salaries thing comes in. Being used to always competing with boys, the now- women will feel just at home working amongst men. These women will not feel  discouraged when they see that they must compete against 12 men for a job as, say, the CEO of a top business, but they will feel motivated to prove something, just like they did before they won that first face-off against the biggest guy on the opposing team.

In the end, my research did not prove that women who played ice hockey ended up making more money later in life (dangit!). However, I did prove that women who participated in men’s sports reported having higher confidence and displayed increased competition, which possibly implies that they make more cheddar than other women (hooray?!), if obtaining a high-paying job is something they aspire to do, and assuming that those attributes play a role in getting hired.

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One Response to From Pucks to Bucks- A theory on women in ice hockey

  1. I think your research design is brilliant. It proposes an easily measurable figure weighed against observable participation in a particular interest group, touching upon important sociological factors like gender inequality, socialization, and personality.

    In anthropology we would have approached the problem in a different manner without the experimental framework. There already exists a vast literature on “play” – every culture has its games because humans like to have fun, its one of our species characteristics. What’s the relationship between the games we play and the cultures we are part of? Do you think ice hockey “says something” about our culture?

    My methodological point of view is one that privileges “experience” or, what is it like to be a girl playing hockey? How does that feel? What special knowledges do you have to acquire in order to do it competently and how do you acquire them? As we can see from your own reflections, learning how to talk to other non-hockey players about your participation in the sport is one of the key skills a young woman needs to develop.

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