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PED-301-20, Amer Women in Sports History (SP15)

INSTRUCTOR: Melissa Falen

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME: Weekly, Thursdays (Women’s College Schedule) 6:30pm-9:15pm, 01/29/2015-05/14/2015


-This course will explore the history of American women in sports.  The important and often overlooked contributions of women in the history of sports in the United States will be the central focus.  The primary focus of the readings will be on female athletes and women’s sports history.  Men’s sports are reflected, though not the focus, in the texts through contrast and comparison with the historical American female sports experience.

-The course will be taught from a feminist perspective by affirming the basic principle that a society’s rights, opportunities, privileges, and responsibilities as they are related to participation in sports should be available to everyone regardless of gender.  The course will examine how socially constructed definitions of gender and sexual orientation have led to harmful male and female stereotypes and how they have often led to discrimination towards female athletes and hindered the growth of women’s sports.   In addition, the influence of cultural and societal attitudes towards class, race and ethnicity will be examined in relationship to additional discrimination in athletics. 


-Students will identify the individual and societal benefits of girls’ and women’s participation in sports.

-Students will describe the contributions in sport history of prominent American female athletes.

-Students will describe how socially constructed definitions of gender and sexual orientation have led to harmful male and female stereotypes and the impact they have had on women’s sports.

-Students will describe the societal and cultural attitudes toward race/ethnicity and class and how these attitudes have impacted female athletes and the growth of women’s sports.  

-Students will define Title IX and explain its impact on the past and present status of women’s sports.

-Students will identify inequities between men’s and women’s sports programs and opportunities and propose strategies for addressing these inequities.

-Students will complete a research paper on either a noted or obscure American female athlete who made significant contributions to a women’s sport or sports, OR on a topic significantly related to women’s sports history in the United States. 


Lecture, class discussions, power point presentations, video and student presentations be the prevalent methods of instruction. Course materials will examine how stereotyping and sexism have influenced American women in sports history.  Some materials will be used in the course (images, ads, videos, articles, etc.) to illustrate society’s past and present gender stereotyping in relationship to male and female athletes and their participation in sports. 


Assignments will include but are not limited to:  instructor selected readings, student selected readings, readings on current events, student reports, a short research paper, and a student presentation.

Grading Policy: A minimum grade average of 60% is needed to pass the course. 

The grading scale will be based on a point system.  Specific point values will be outlined in the syllabus. The following percentages which will be used in assessing grades: 

90-100 = A; 88-89 = B+; 80-87 = B; 78-79 = C+; 70-77 = C; 60-69 = D; 0-59 = F            


1.  Chan, S., & O’Reilly, J. (editors).  Women and Sports in the United States. Northeastern University Press, Boston.  2007.

2.  Roberts, Selena.  A Necessary Spectacle.  Crown Publishers, New York.  2005


Smith, Lisa (editor).  Nike is a Goddess; The History of Women in Sports. Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 1998.

Other readings will be assigned from books which will be on reserve in the library. A list of these books will be provided.