Gender stereotypes in Physical Education

Diego Arenas, Josep Vidal-Conti and Adrià Muntaner Mas (2022). Gender stereotypes and differential treatment between boys and girls in Physical Education subject: a narrative review. Universidad de las Islas Baleares (Spain). Retos, 43, 342-351. 

Physical Education (PE) is part of the curriculum of the different educational stages. It is a subject with characteristics that make it different from the rest since it focuses on the physical dimension of the person, rather than the rational one. This implies that the bodily differences that exist between men and women become more evident when it comes to certain activities or when choosing one sport or another. The fact that the teacher is of the same sex as his students or not, can also have an influence on the development of the lessons. For all these reasons, it is easy to fall into gender stereotypes or comparisons between the sexes. In the single-sex school, these biases are largely avoided, since there is no comparison between the sexes and there is more freedom to choose freely without the pressure of certain expectations.

In the following study, a narrative review of more than thirty studies is carried out in which gender stereotypes are addressed in PE lessons.

Abstract. This narrative review tries to investigate whether exists gender stereotypes in Physical Education (PE), both at Primary School (PS) and Secondary School (SS) levels. A compilation and analysis of 33 studies found in five databases have been reviewed (SPORTDISCUS, SCIELO, DIALNET, REDALYC and GOOGLE SCHOLAR). The majority of the reviewed evidence is from the Spanish context, although our review also integrates some international references. Therefore, possible sources of transmission of stereotypes in this field were identified and analyzed, by establishing categories. The state of the art showed the existence of inequalities and discrimination towards girls in PE sessions, therefore, the need to promote the training in coeducational matters, mainly of physical education teachers, is more than warranted. Collectively, an intervention using specific pedagogical models would remain as a main future perspective to treat gender inequalities or stereotypes in PE lessons.

Keywords. Narrative review, gender stereotypes, primary school, secondary school and physical education.