A systematic review of gender stereotype beliefs and their relationship with youth sport participation and performance

Elanor E. Cormack*, Christopher J. Hand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Gender stereotype beliefs are potentially important in determining how well people perform in and engage with sport and exercise. This systematic review provides a critical snapshot of the current research to identify the volume of literature available and insights into the relationship between gender stereotype beliefs and performance and participation in youth sport and exercise. The review also considered the evidence to support current theoretical models (stereotype threat, expectancy-value model). The systematic search found only eight studies that explored the topic. The review findings showed that there is a need for more replication studies to allow firm conclusions to be drawn. There was substantial variation in the studies’ methodological approaches with a complex impact pathway of gender stereotype shown. A mixed relationship was found between stereotype beliefs and performance, whereas stereotype beliefs were consistently found to relate to participation. Perceived ability and stereotype awareness were found to be potentially important in both performance and participation effects. Situational and individual variables such as extent of stereotype in the sport and internalisation of stereotypes are also likely to determine the impact of a stereotype belief and these need to be explored further, particularly in young people. Limitations that were found in the current evidence-base include a focus on school-based studies, a lack of quantifiable measures of participation, and a need to differentiate between the internalisation and socialisation hypotheses. This review highlights critical gaps in the literature and provides clear questions for further investigation. In particular, the lack of community-based samples, quantitative measures of participation, or replication studies weaken the conclusions that can be drawn. Suggestions for further research include studies that differentiate the theoretical mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSport and Exercise Psychology Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020


  • stereotype threat
  • exercise
  • expectancy value model
  • perceived ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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