Gender, Interculturalism and Discourses on Women's Leadership in the Olympic Movement

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This paper addresses Western discourses relating to the role of women in the leadership of Olympic and elite sporting bodies in two contrasting non-western contexts, namely in selected Muslim countries (i.e. Member States of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference) and in the People's Republic of China. The two cases are selected because they reflect contrasting contexts in which the role of women is seen to be embedded in very different ideologies, often referred to simplistically as a religious, and a political ideology respectively. The data through which we scrutinise these two cases are derived from two separate studies. The first is an evaluation study of IOC policy Women in Leadership in the Olympic Movement. In 1996 the IOC adopted a set of minimum targets in relation to the proportion of executive decision-making positions in National Olympic Committees and International Federations which women should hold (10% by 2000, and 20% by 2004). This paper draws on an evaluation of the achievement of these targets commissioned by the IOC from Loughborough University. We focus here on the representation of Muslim women in NOC Executive Committees. The vehicle for discussing the second case is an on-going study of the role of women in state and Olympic sport organisations in China, which has involved case studies of women in senior positions in the Chinese system.

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Yi Wen Chin
Ian Henry
Fan Hong
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