Monday, June 15, 2009

Encouraging girls to participate and remain in after school sports programs

After my last post, I found this New York Times article interesting.
MetroLacrosse, which serves 600 children, is one of several Boston sports groups that are aggressively trying to increase girls’ participation. The city is at the vanguard of a movement to close the gender gap in urban areas by rethinking traditional activities and looking for new ways to encourage girls to play.
This is being done by trying to include a broader range of programs that would more likely appeal to girls, such as dance and yoga, instead of focusing so closely on traditional team sports.

A 2002 Harvard School of Public Health study found that girls made up 49 percent of Boston’s youth but made up only 33 percent of those participating in sports programs after school. These results led to the formation of the Boston Girls’ Sports and Physical Activity Project which was tasked with evaluating opportunities for girls in Boston's sports programs.

The effort has reached as far as the elementary school playground. Employees at Sports4Kids, a nonprofit group that oversees recess at public schools, have been devising ways to shake up gender roles and increase options for girls. Tes Siarnacki, a recess coordinator at a school in East Boston, regularly encourages older girls to referee boy-dominated soccer games, and assigns older boys to monitor double Dutch
jump rope, which is played mostly by girls.
There's more at the link. I think the idea of mixing up the genders at different recess activities as described above may be a good idea. I am unsure, however, about the idea of tailoring programs to fit more stereotypically feminine ideas of what kinds of physical activity would be done by girls. If girls really aren't participating in sports programs like boys are, maybe we should be more concerned with treating the cause and not merely the symptoms of this fact. Why aren't girls as interested in traditional team sports and boys? Is there a gendered reason for this?

What do you think?

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