Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Janet R. Hutchinson


Research indicates that female athletes have long occupied marginal and sometimes invisible positions in sport settings and mainstream media. The focus of this study is on understanding and analyzing how race, class, gender, and other forms of oppression shape women’s professional sport using as the focal point, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the type of mainstream media coverage it receives. The researcher believes that a better understanding of these varied experiences would add depth and knowledge to research on CSR in sport, women and sport research, as well as allow professional leagues and teams to move forward with a more informed perspective regarding design, delivery, and overall purpose of CSR in women’s professional sport. The purposefully selected sample includes six semi-structured interviews with league and team executives from the Women’s Tennis Association, Ladies Professional Golf, Women’s National Basketball Association, and Women’s Professional Soccer. Additionally, this study includes content analysis of 218 public organizational documents and a content analysis of the New York Times Sports sections. The data was coded and organized according to the research questions. Analysis and interpretation of findings were organized by way of two analytic categories that were based on the study’s conceptual framework: (a) Intersectionality and sport, and (b) How and why women’s professional sport leagues and teams engage in CSR. Ultimately, this study is important because CSR initiatives often serve as a way to connect with the community, bring attention to socially relevant issues, and highlight athletes who serve as positive role models for youth. Race, class, and gender discrimination by the sporting public negatively impacts the level of interest in women’s sport, which, in turn affects the ability of women’s professional sport leagues and teams to effectively engage in CSR. As a result of discriminatory practices, opportunities to conduct meaningful outreach to young women and girls are weakened. Recommendations are offered for future research possibilities. Given that there are multiple factors that affect CSR in women’s professional sport and the type of mainstream media coverage leagues and teams receive, the recommendations generated by this research should be considered for their appropriateness on an individual basis.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2012