Why do girls drop out of sports more often than boys?
Nancy Lough, a professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, says that girls drop out for numerous reasons–and some are related to gender stereotypes.
“If you think about it from a social standpoint, there are a lot of messages for girls: ‘This isn’t the place for you,’” she says.
Girls are told they should be pretty not powerful. They feel pressure to conform to stereotypical gender roles.
Boys, on the other hand, are encouraged to look powerful and sports provides for this.
“There’s a different set of messages given to girls than boys, depending on the cultures you are raised in. Some cultures are far less accepting of girls playing sports,” she says.
Sometimes others will question the sexuality of female athletes.
“For example, if you’re a softball player, people tell girls they must be gay or lesbian. This doesn’t happen to boys,” says Lough.
But if it does happen during a critical time in girls’ lives, they might step away from sports, says Lough.
To help girls stay in sports, parents should leave the lines of communication open about gender stereotypes so girls can talk to them about these issues.
In addition, parents should avoid being critical. And they shouldn’t let their personal identities get wrapped up in the success of a child.
“It has to be fun. One of the biggest reasons kids quit: It’s not fun anymore.”
When parents invest a lot of money and time into club-level sports, they often have expectations for kids. “The pressure is felt by the young athletes and they get overwhelmed,” says Lough. “They think it’s not fun anymore.”
Rather than pressuring, parents need to think about how sports can boost kids’ health, happiness and confidence, especially if they stay in sports for their entire lives, says Lough.
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Do your young athletes:
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