This literature review on disability sport was conducted for the Gender+ Equity in Sport in Canada Research Hub to serve as a foundational report for strategic research priorities development.
The review took place from May to October, 2020.
An initial yield of n=1542 records was accrued. At the first phase of screening, titles and abstracts of records were reviewed. Inclusion criteria were: (a) involves gender-focused components, (b) concerns any gender identities, (c) in the social sciences field, (d) concerns people’s involvement, participation, or engagement in sport, (e) adopts a disability lens. Exclusion criteria were: (a) no gender focus, (b) no disability lens, (c) no sport focus, (d) fictional depictions in the media, (e) primarily concerned with physiological/performance-related outcomes, (f) conference abstracts or proceedings. This first stage yielded 272 records. In the second stage, full-texts were retrieved and reviewed using the same inclusion/exclusion criteria as the first phase with the additions of excluding any non-retrievable full-text copies and any duplicate records. This resulted in 128 records selected for extraction. After applying a limit of the years 2000-2020, data were extracted from the records in categories of information about location/countries, contexts, participants, sport, theories, methodologies, and results. These data were reviewed for the extent to which their contents were relevant to constructing understandings of gender equity in disability sport. As a result, the final selected records were narrowed down to 45 records. Descriptive statistics helped to understand the frequencies and percentages of the data across the categories, and qualitative descriptive analyses were used to group data inductively into themes that can help address the research question. Grey literature was additionally explored after this process and will be included in a supplement to this review.
· Ableist and masculinity notions are intertwined into disability sport, and shape the experiences of disabled athletes (female and male)
· Disabled athletes are often challenged with how to construct their identities, in integrating masculinity, femininity, and battling being seen as an ungendered athlete, while also battling the notion that their gender should matter before their identity as athletes first.
· Media perpetuates the notions of masculinity and ability in their representations of female disabled athletes
· Beyond masculinity and ability, there also exists the influence of cultural and religious norms – which may be important to explore in Canadian multicultural contexts
· There is little research to draw on in understanding gender equity in disability sport that is situated in Canada.
· Low attention on recreational and school contexts, and/or children and youth.
· There is a gap in understanding participation rates in disability sport by gender across levels of involvement (e.g., organizational, coaching, athletic, etc.) and across context (e.g., elite, Paralympic, recreational, school, etc.), from a Canadian (and even International) perspective.
· ~75% of research in disability sport and gender does not employ any theory or conceptual framing.
· ~45% of research in disability sport and gender does not explicitly address epistemological positioning and/or methodological approaches.
· All the records returned in this review involved either men (male) or women (female) identities, with no records concerning any other identified gender identities.
· Much of the research is situated in elite and Paralympic contexts, with less focus on recreational, school, and developmental contexts for disability sport.
· Call for more research in gender equity in the Canadian disability context.
· Explore recreational and schools as places of opportunity to promote gender participation.
· Call for more collaborative action research approaches to tackle research questions most relevant to disabled people and supporting their empowerment.
· Explore leveraging technology for promoting gender equity in this context.
· Explore the use of reverse integration contexts to promote inclusion.
Grey Literature Summary
This literature review on disability sport was conducted for the Gender+ Equity in Sport in Canada Research Hub to serve as a compliment to the academic literature scoping review.
The review took place from January to March, 2021.
This report of the grey literature around gender and its interaction with disability sport, at all levels of people involved in sport, mostly supported the key findings of the associated scoping review of the academic literature (Culver & Shaikh, 2020). Not all topics covered in the academic literature were found in the grey literature. Intersectionality and non-binary gender identities and disability sport were absent in both forms of literature, pointing to a big gap. The grey literature provides example of best practices/programs implemented by different organizations. Some of these are in the recreational sport context, a context no at all well covered in the academic literature. As a supplement to the other important gaps in the academic literature related to gender and disability sport research (e.g., participation and participation rates), moving forward, sport organizations could contribute important data by gathering more data on their programs. Such data should include quantitative metrics related to participation (e.g., representation, recruitment, retention), as well as qualitative data about the experiences of participants (e.g., barriers faced, pathways, psychological safety, supports). These data are essential to support change that is based on the evidence of both the academic and grey literature. Such evidence can provide a base for building a research strategy for gender+ and disability sport. Future research should also include more collaborative approaches whereby academics and sport organisations work together on action type research projects that involve those Canadians directly involved, such as disability sport participants and others who can impact their sport experience, especially at the community sport level.