Publication Date: 2003-09-00
Author: Hart, Lawrence; Gary, Juneau Mahan; Duhamel, Christie Creney; Homefield, Kimberly
Source: ERIC Counseling and Student Services Clearinghouse
Building Leadership Skills in Middle School Girls through Interscholastic Athletics. ERIC Digest.
The transition to intermediate or middle school, beginning as early
as grade four, is
Harter (1986) found that change in self-esteem is most likely to occur
during times of transition, such as changing schools. Changes in one's
environment are usually the
WHY FOCUS ON GIRLS?
Eccles et al (1993) found that girls had lower self-esteem than boys
in middle school
TITLE IX EDUCATIONAL AMENDMENTS OF 1972
Many middle schools offer interscholastic sports programs for boys and girls. Students obtain a position on a team by competing in a "try-out," a new experience for most adolescents. Once selected, membership requires a commitment to compete in several games per week and practice for many hours daily.
Sports teams for girls flourished as a result on the Title IX Educational Amendments of 1972. Often referred to as Title IX, this federal law requires that almost all educational institutions provide educational opportunities to male and female students equitably, including their athletic programs and offerings (www.womenssportsfoundation.org). Title IX seeks to level the playing field for both genders by mandating equal opportunities for participation.
WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?
Dobosz and Beaty (1999) assert that leadership is the capability to guide others in the achievement of a common goal. Leadership characteristics consist of many personal qualities, including self-esteem, determination, organizational aptitude, focus, tolerance, decisiveness, self-discipline, charisma, time management, self-confidence, social competence, communicating a "vision," and sensitivity to the needs of others, among other qualities (Dobosz & Beaty, 1999). This digest will address empowerment, self-esteem, and time management.
START EARLY: ATHLETICS AND LEADERSHIP ABILITIES IN MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS
Middle school is the typical time for introduction to competitive sports for most adolescents. Thus, research collected at the "start gate" of middle school, if you will, will establish a benchmark of the impact of athletics on the development of leadership skills in girls. Yet, although Title IX has existed for over 30 years, limited research exists in examining this impact (Dobosz & Beaty, 1999). Leadership skills that are instilled during early adolescence in girls evolve throughout adolescence and into adulthood (Dorrance, 1996; Simon & Martens, 1979; Shields & Bredemeir, 1995). In fact, 80% of the female executives in Fortune 500 companies self-identified as having been athletes and/or "tomboys" in adolescence (Feminist Research Center, 2001).
Membership on an athletic team is one avenue to acquire, assess, refine,
Participation in sports extends the nurturance of leadership by teaching
Athletic team membership enables girls to control and shape their lives,
Learning effective time management is a major step towards leadership
The effects of self-esteem in student athletes and non-athletes have
An increase in self-esteem nurtured through athletic competition assists
middle school girls to cope with the negative influences and social turmoil
experienced in their daily
Impressionable, athletic, middle school girls need positive and empowering role models to emulate while developing personal and interpersonal skills. Fortunately, coaches, officials, and parent volunteers are additional role models of leadership that student athletes are exposed to, compared to the general student body. In addition to the leaders in their daily lives, contemporary women athletes are the women that girls consider empowering leaders too. Athletes such as Mia Hamm, Marion Jones, Rebecca Lobo, and Venus and Serena Williams surmounted obstacles and emerged as role models of leadership and athletic success.
IMPLICATIONS FOR SCHOOL PERSONNEL
Dobosz and Beaty (1999) conclude that athletic participation and early
In the spirit of No Child Left Behind, girls, regardless of athletic ability, may benefit from intentional leadership development. Although opportunities exist for the athlete to develop leadership skills, school personnel must not overlook the non-athletic girl. Traditionally, girls have had few formal opportunities to develop leadership skills. Girls should be encouraged to attend leadership seminars as well as participate in recreational sports and extracurricular activities in school and in the community. School personnel must prepare all girls to lead.
For the middle school-aged female athlete, self-esteem, empowerment,
Dobosz, R.P., & Beaty, L.A. (1999). The relationship between athletic participation and high school students' leadership ability. Adolescence, 34(133), 215-220.
Dorrance, A. (1996). Training soccer champions. Apex, NC: JTC Sports, Inc.
Eccles, J. S., Midgley, C., Buchanan, C. M., Wigfield, A., Reuman, D.
Feminist Research Center (n.d.). Empowering women in sports. Retrieved October 14, 2002 from http://www.feminist.org/research/sports6.html.
Gregg, L. (1999). The champion within: Training for excellence. Burlington, NC: JTC Sports.
Hart, L. (2002). Middle school-aged female interscholastic soccer players
Harter, S. (1986). Processes underlying the construction, maintenance,
Harter, S. (1999). The construction of self: A developmental perspective. New York: Guilford.
Hogenbruen, K. D. (1999). Increasing girls' self-esteem and overall
Horn, T.S. (1985). Coaches feedback and changes in children's perceptions
LeCroy, C. W., & Daley, J. (2001). Empowering adolescent girls: Examining the present and building skills for the future with the Go Grrrls Program. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.
Shields, D., & Bredemeir, B.J. (1995). Character development and physical activity. Champaign. IL: Human Kinetics.
Simon, J.A., & Martens, R. (1979). Children's anxiety in sport and non-sport evaluative activities. Journal of Sport Psychology, 1, 160-169.
Women's Sports Foundation. (n.d.). What every parent and athlete should
know about girls and sports. Retrieved October 14, 2002 from
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