ERIC Number: ED413129
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996
Reference Count: N/A
"Kind of in the Middle": The Gendered Meanings of the Outdoors for Women Students.
Henderson, Karla A.; Winn, Sherry; Roberts, Nina S.
Although a growing literature base about women's involvement in the outdoors has emerged in the past 10 years, little attention has been given to gender analyses related to the social meanings of being female in a changing society. Five focus group interviews with a total of 36 women focused on past, present, and future involvement in the outdoors and whether the outdoors was perceived as a gendered environment. The women were university students attending leisure studies classes and ranging in age from 19 to 25. The sample consisted of 5 African-Americans, 2 Asian-Americans, and 29 women of white heritage. The women described a range of gendered behaviors related to the outdoors and discussed common constraints to participation such as fear and the need for partners. With gender as an organizing framework, interpretation of the data exemplify how most women made choices contingent on contexts and relationships, not just their biological female status. However, the impact of changing women's roles, past socialization, and stereotypical gender expectations made the determination of how choices were made difficult. Findings included: (1) women's appreciation of the outdoors was related to exposure to outdoor opportunities as a child, either through family, school, or summer camp experiences; (2) a progression of appreciation, interests, skills, and opportunities in the outdoors was necessary for female involvement but was sometimes impeded by gendered constraints; and (3) most women were optimistic and wanted to believe that the outdoors is a gender-neutral environment, but their experiences sometimes contradicted such idealized attitudes. Contains 25 references. (SV)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A