A Participatory Exploration of Women Athletic Trainers’ Experiences in the Workplace




Mitro, Jessica Pope

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While the majority of athletic trainers are women, research showed that many women left the profession between 28 and 35 years of age. Reasons for this phenomenon have been examined using traditional researcher-centered approaches. However, in 2019, the Strategic Alliance Research Agenda Task force identified vitality of the profession to be a research priority and recognized the need for collaborative research in athletic training. Using a critical feminist framework, this study disengaged from the expected researcher-led project to utilize a participatory approach to knowledge production. This approach allowed for the engagement of eight women athletic trainers to collaboratively examine the individual, organizational, and sociocultural factors that impacted their experiences in the workplace. Through a series of virtual meetings, journal entries, and a private, WhatsApp text conversation, data were collected over 5 months. An in-depth critical structural analysis was conducted, which uncovered three sociocultural structures that impacted women athletic trainers in the workplace: (a) structures of gender, (b) culture of overdedication, and (c) culture of respect. The findings of this study suggest that women athletic trainers’ experiences in the workplace were shaped by the historical culture, structures, and expectations of a male-dominated patriarchy. Women athletic trainers resisted the gendered, patriarchal structures of athletic training through a culture of respect. This study demonstrated the feasibility of conducting a participatory research project with clinically practicing athletic trainers, and its usefulness in gaining in-depth insights of research topics and achieving relevant, action-oriented outcomes. There are implications for women athletic trainers, employers, athletic training leadership, and researchers which can help create change and support women athletic trainers in the workplace. Knowledge gained from this study should be used to take action and address the patterns and structures that negatively impact women athletic trainers’ experiences in the workplace.



Kinesiology, Social research, Organizational behavior, Athletic Trainer, Community Based Participatory Research, Critical structural analysis, Job retention, Organizational culture, Work-life balance