Gender disparities in competitive cycling : an analysis of the structural, socio-cultural, and individual factors affecting female participation in Texas
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Of the 2,858 licensed competitive road cyclists in Texas, female cyclists only account for 12%. The gender disparity in participation numbers suggests possible underlying barriers to entry, recruitment, and retention of female athletes compared to that of male cyclists. The current study sought to understand such issues by exploring the entirety of the competitive road cycling experience of female cyclists in Texas. To accomplish such a task, the current study utilized a mixed methods design consisting of content analysis, interviews, and an online survey. Integrating methods allowed for a more comprehensive understanding of the individual as impacted by structural, socio- cultural, and individual factors and further reveals how such factors are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Results revealed how socio-culturally informed gendered attitudes and norms heavily impact structural policies, rules, and regulations within competitive cycling. Subsequently, structural factors influenced individual choices, attitudes, and behaviors. Further, results emphasized that individuals are complex beings, and although shaped by their environment, embody personal agency, resistance, and coping. Individual decisions, attitudes, and desires subsequently shaped socio-cultural norms and structural processes. Finally, structural reform strategies are suggested to help increase female participation and retention rates within competitive road cycling in Texas.