Sport has been hailed as a symbol of masculinity in American society. Through participation in sport, girls and boys are socialized to a masculine, competitive culture that may have long-term consequences for participants in other gendered institutions throughout the life course. Like sport, work has been identified as a gendered institution where women are often relegated to lower-paying positions and more feminized occupations. In this mixed-methods study, I examine whether participation in high school sports helps adolescents to successfully navigate young adult work. Specifically, I use longitudinal survey data from the Youth Development Study to test whether high school sport participation is associated with labor force participation, job categories and characteristics, pay, and workplace authority. Multi-level mixed effects models show that sport participation, among both males and females, is associated with labor force participation and earnings. Moreover, sex- and sport-specific effects also emerge. For example, I find that females who participate in contact sports, on average, work in industries characterized by a higher proportion of male workers. Sport participation was also associated with females' annual household income and supervisory authority. In-depth interviews with nine women who participated in high school sports reveal a number of mechanisms through which sport is linked to young adult work outcomes.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2013. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Christopher Uggen. 1 computer file (PDF): x, 212 pages, appendices p. 204-212.
Playing like a boy: gender, high school sport participation, and early career success.
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