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Dropping Out: Why Male and Female Leaders in German Sports Federations Break Off Their Careers


  • Pfister, Gertrud
  • Radtke, Sabine


This paper presents results of a research project about the experiences of male and female volunteer leaders in German sport organisations who "dropped out" of their leadership positions earlier than originally planned. In Germany the sports system is based on clubs and federations, and sports organisations are run by unpaid volunteers who also make up the decision-making committees. The aim of this project was to identify gendered patterns of careers and drop-out processes and thus to contribute to an explanation of the marginalisation of women in executive bodies of the German sport system. Constructivist approaches to gender and the sociology of organisations, with particular consideration of organisation culture, framed this study. We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 7 male and 9 female former leaders who had been engaged in various positions on the national level of different sport federations. The findings revealed a great variety of leadership biographies and reasons to leave the sport associations, which had to do mostly with the culture of the organisation. However, some patterns and typical processes as well as different types of drop-out processes could be identified. Gender differences emerged especially with regard to attitudes towards dealing with power, prestige and conflicts. In contrast to the men, the women not only experienced sex-specific discriminations but also showed a much higher emotional involvement in conflicts and the drop-out-processes as a whole.

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  • Pfister, Gertrud & Radtke, Sabine, 2006. "Dropping Out: Why Male and Female Leaders in German Sports Federations Break Off Their Careers," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 111-139, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:spomar:v:9:y:2006:i:2:p:111-139

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Oecd, 2003. "Gender and Economic Reform," OECD Journal on Development, OECD Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 7-42.
    2. Dixon, Marlene A. & Bruening, Jennifer E., 2005. "Perspectives on Work-Family Conflict in Sport: An Integrated Approach," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 227-253, November.
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