This paper frames men’s club football as an “extremely gendered” organization to explain the underrepresentation of women leaders within the industry. By analyzing women’s leadership work over a 30-year period, we find that women’s inclusion has been confined to a limited number of occupational areas. These areas are removed, in terms of influence and proximity, from the male players and the playing of football. These findings reveal a gendered substructure within club football that maintains masculine dominance in core football facing leadership roles and relegates women to a position of peripheral inclusion in leadership roles. Through a discourse analysis of gender pay gap reports, we show that men’s football clubs legitimatize women’s peripheral inclusion by naturalizing male-dominance at the organizational core. These findings are significant as they demonstrate that men’s football clubs, as masculine conferring organizations, have excluded women from core roles in order to maintain their masculine character while superficially accepting women into roles that do not challenge the association of football with hegemonic masculinity. As such, organizational change may only be possible if women are granted greater access to core organizational roles. This paper offers a new theoretical framework for “extremely gendered” organizations that can be applied to other sporting and male-dominated contexts to analyze women’s access to core leadership roles.
Bryan, A., Pope, S., & Rankin-Wright, A. J. (2021). On the Periphery: Examining Women’s Exclusion from Core Leadership Roles in the “Extremely Gendered” Organization of Men’s Club Football in England. Gender & Society, 35(6), 940-970. https://doi.org/10.1177/08912432211046318