Football Development and Performance

Women in Sport Research Group

Women in Sport Research Group

Welcome to the Women in Sport Research Group at BNU. We are committed to research, which helps to transform sport and physical activity for the benefit of women and girls in the local area and beyond. The Group continues BNU’s proud history of research into the gendered nature of sport and supports impactful inquiry, which listens to unheard voices and provides new insights into the experiences of women athletes, at all levels, and other stakeholders in women’s sport.

Selected Current and Recent Projects

21-years later: Femininity, masculinity, physicality and the English tabloid press

In an update on research from more than two decades ago, this deductive thematic analysis explores the ways in which both male and female athletes are represented within English tabloid newspapers. Dr Ben Clayton and Gemma Dunn, in collaboration with colleagues at Glasgow Caledonian University, are assessing whether the quality, quantity, and gendered messages in the coverage of athletes has changed in the past 21-years, when female athletes accounted for only 5.9% of the total sports reporting, and their accomplishments at athletes trivialised through non-task relevant and often sexualised commentary. Male athletes, meanwhile, were valorised in a predominantly masculine discourse and task relevant reporting. Early analysis suggests that while female athletes (6% of coverage) still receive considerably less tabloid media attention than male athletes (89% of coverage), the use of explicit gendered themes are significantly reduced and there is very little evidence of the sexualisation or trivialisation of female athletes.

For more information about this project, please contact Dr Ben Clayton (


Experiences of women at football matchdays

A collaborative project between BNU and Wycombe Wanderers Football Club (WWFC), led by Dr. Fiona McCormack, sought to give a voice to female spectators at Adams Park to help strengthen the sense of equality and inclusion as well as highlight any practical steps the club might be able to take to create more inclusive experience.

For more information about this project, please contact Dr Fiona McCormack (


Current PhD / MPhils

‘The female athlete: A sex-differences approach to training individualisation’

‘Nutritional intervention designed to improve the dietary intake, sports nutrition knowledge and energy availability of female football players’

Past PhD / MPhils

‘Defending like women: An interpretative sociological study of female collegiate football players’

‘Challenging careers for women? Negotiating identities in outdoor education’

‘A fine balance: Stories of parents who climb’

‘A study into the interplay of anger and identity in female football coaches’ (MPhil)


Selected Outputs

Allin, L., & Humberstone, B. (2006). Exploring careership in outdoor education and the lives of women outdoor educators. Sport, Education and Society11(2), 135-153.

Clarke, G., & Humberstone, B. (Eds.). (1997). Researching women and sport. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Clayton, B., & Coates, E. (2015). Negotiating the climb: A fictional representation of climbing, gendered parenting and the morality of time. Annals of Leisure Research18(2), 235-251.

Clayton, B., & Harris, J. (2004). Footballers' wives: the role of the soccer player's partner in the construction of idealized masculinity. Soccer & society5(3), 317-335.

Harris, J. (2005). The image problem in women’s football. Journal of Sport and Social Issues29(2), 184-197.

Harris, J., & Clayton, B. (2002). Femininity, masculinity, physicality and the English tabloid press: The case of Anna Kournikova. International review for the sociology of sport37(3-4), 397-413.

Harris, J., & Clayton, B. (2008). Tales from the pitch: some observations on the gendered dynamics of English collegiate soccer. Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education2(2), 239-262.

Humberstone, B. (1996). Other Voices; Many Meanings? Technique and Philosophy for Outdoor Adventure: The Case for Women. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Leadership13(2), 47-51.

Humberstone, B. (2000). The ‘outdoor industry’ as social and educational phenomena: Gender and outdoor adventure/education. Journal of adventure education & outdoor learning1(1), 21-35.

Humberstone, B., & Cutler-Riddick, C. (2015). Older women, embodiment and yoga practice. Ageing & Society35(6), 1221-1241.

Humberstone, B., & Pedersen, K. (2001). Gender, class and outdoor traditions in the UK and Norway. Sport, education and society6(1), 23-33.

Humberstone, B., & Stuart, S. (2016). Older women, exercise to music, and yoga: senses of pleasure? Journal of Aging and Physical Activity24(3), 412-418.


Contact Information

For more information about the Women in Sport Research Group or any of its projects, please contact group lead Dr Ben Clayton (