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Experiences of female skateboarders to be explored in new research project

The experiences of female skateboarders, their sense of identity and their place in the skateboarding community are to be studied as part of a new project by researchers at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and Sheffield Hallam University.

Female skateboarder performing a jump
The research will explore female skateboarding at a grassroots level

Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the study will explore incentives and barriers to skateboarding for girls, and how being a member of a skateboarding community fits into their life. The ways in which female skateboarders use spaces in skateparks and wider urban areas, and how being involved in skateboarding affects this, will also be investigated.

Girl Skateboarders: active girlhood, alternative sports and urban space will focus on two skateparks in Nottingham and Manchester which have received funding for female skateboarder inclusion, plus a third – to be confirmed - which doesn’t have a scheme in place.

Along with observation and interviews, the researchers will use smartphone diary keeping, including photos, film and audio, to understand which young females, if any, use the space, how and when they use it, and how they relate to young male skateboarders and non-skateboarding girls.

Professor Carrie Paechter, lead researcher and director of the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families at NTU’s School of Social Sciences, said: “Skateboarding has the potential to be economically, ethnically and socially inclusive. It’s generally inexpensive, doesn’t require a team or proficiency level, and most people have access to somewhere they can skateboard near to their home. However, it is a largely white, male dominated community and we don’t currently know much about the place of females in the sport.

“Through this project we want to discover the relationship between skateboarding and girls’ identities, including their gender identity, social class and ethnicity. We’ll be looking at how they behave and interact with others at the skatepark, what influences and incentivises them, and whether there are any physical, social, or other constraints to their participation.”

Female skateboarder on a Nottingham street
Skateboarder Millie Warren skates down a Nottingham city centre street. Photograph by skater, skate-photography mentor and NTU BA Photography student Alice Ashley. Copyright Alice Ashley, 2021

The research team also includes veteran skateboarders Chris Lawton, a Visiting Research Fellow at Nottingham Business School and Skateboard GB’s skateboard community development officer, and Dr Dani Abulhawa, senior lecturer in Performance at Sheffield Hallam University, with a research focus on the relationship between public urban spaces, gender and play.

Dr Abulhawa said: "I'm really excited about how our research will lead to increased support for non-traditional participants to take part in skateboarding and to participate freely and confidently in public urban space.

"We have developed this project with a focus on community impact. One legacy of our work will be an audio artwork designed to integrate some of the key ideas and findings coming out of the research in a format that will appeal to a broad audience."

Chris Lawton said: “In programmes run by Skate Nottingham since 2017, we’ve worked really hard to try and create welcoming environments for women and girls to start skateboarding. We know Projekts MCR have also done incredible work from their facility in Manchester for several years.

“In the Olympic Games this summer, there will be an equal number of men and women competitors in skateboarding. So we’re really interested to see what kind of impact these purposive programmes have at a grassroots level in Nottingham and Manchester, on women and girls’ day-to-day experience of ‘being skateboarders’, in order for us to better understand and improve their experiences at both a local and national level with Skateboard GB.”

The project will begin at skateparks this summer. For further information email Professor Carrie Paechter

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

    NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.

    A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 87% satisfaction score in the 2020 National Student Survey, above the sector average of 83%.

    About Sheffield Hallam University

    Sheffield Hallam University's vision is to become the world's leading applied university, transforming lives and creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds.

    Named University of the Year for Teaching Quality in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020, Sheffield Hallam is one of the UK's largest higher education providers, with over 30,500 students.

    The University offers a comprehensive range of courses and is one of the leading providers of health and teacher training.

    The application of knowledge is at the heart of everything we do, through our students’ learning and experience, business partnerships and innovative research addressing real world challenges.

    The University is committed to the Sheffield City Region, providing leadership to drive improvements in social mobility, health and the economy.

Published on 14 April 2021
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Social Sciences