Women in sport and exercise psychology: a north american perspective

Emily A. Roper and Katherine M. Polasek

College of Health Sciences, Sam Houston State University, Houston USA


A. Roper, E., M. Polasek, K. (2020). Women in sport and exercise psychology: a north american perspective. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 51(5), 548-558. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2020.51.548


Women’s contributions have had little place in the written histories of the field of sport and exercise psychology (Gill, 1995). Much of our written history of the field focuses on founders that were male, Caucasian, from the United States, and had a behavioral or experimental psychology background, with little attention to the role women, people of color, and those outside the United States played in the field’s history and development (Krane & Whaley, 2010). Within this paper, we provide an overview of the literature devoted to North American women’s career experiences in the field of sport and exercise psychology, followed by a discussion of the history of feminist sport psychology and its influence on studying and acknowledging women in the field, as well as women’s experiences in sport and exercise. We then address the relative absence of documentation devoted to women’s contributions to the field outside of North America. Lastly, we discuss the importance of female role models and mentoring women in sport and exercise psychology.