Canadian Female Alpine Athletes’ Constructions of Risk and Gender

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Female alpine athletes’ constructions of gender and risk are poorly addressed in the academic record. The vast majority of publications focus on the reproductive risks inherent in being in a less oxygenated environment and not on the experiences of female alpinists themselves. For my master’s project, I explored the experiences of female athletes in alpine sport. The primary objective was to gain greater understanding of Canadian female athletes’ constructions of gender and risk in alpine environments and in relation to the larger cultural context. Informed largely by Michel Foucault’s concepts of agency and governmentality, as well as Pirkko Markula’s feminist interpretations of Foucault’s perspectives on the (moving) body, and following the tenets of feminist qualitative research methods, I interviewed women alpine athletes living in and around Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Five participants agreed to complete two one-on-one interviews using go-along or moving interviewing techniques; they also agreed to take part in a guided-group-conversation comprised of all five participants and me. The process of analysis was completed, in part, through participant validation between each interview and thus, participant-driven analysis was integral to this project. Participants constructed gender and risk largely through a comparison of doing what they felt they ought, which usually centred on their careers and families, and what they wanted, which centred on the draw that they felt toward the alpine. Valuable insights were also gained on research methods and (the making of) community.
risk; gender; women and the alpine; agency; governmentality; moving interviews; go-along interviews
Kelly, D. (2020). Canadian Female Alpine Athletes’ Constructions of Risk and Gender (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from