• • • Women's Participation in Men's Hockey

Men’s ice hockey is an important site for the examination of expressions of dominant forms of masculinity, as it is one of few spaces where the culturally revered form of masculinity is also the form that is overtly expressed. In earlier work, I found that the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) perpetuates dominant expressions of masculinity through its players, the culture of hockey and the structure of the game. I also found that, with the exception of the skating coach (a position commonly held by figure skaters), women are almost entirely absent from official positions that would see them assisting players in their hockey development. Women employed by the CHL often perform labour in ways that reflect traditional notions of femininity, such as handling administrative and secretarial duties, advising players on their education, and helping players adjust to life in their billet homes. 

Although women hold few formal roles in the CHL they invest an unquestionable (and often unacknowledged) amount of labour in their sons’ hockey, including organizing teams, fundraising, driving children to various sports-related events, doing laundry, preparing special meals, and providing emotional support. In spite of the importance of women’s roles in men’s/boys’ sports, there are few studies examining the ways that women challenge and reproduce expressions of masculinity. Furthermore, although there have been several examinations of the ways that Canadian hockey produces dominant expressions of masculinity in its players researchers have overlooked the roles that women play in this process.

My objective for this research is to examine the roles of women, specifically mothers, in producing and resisting dominant expressions of masculinity in the young men who compete in the CHL. 

I will explore the following research questions:

 1. How do mothers work to support and resist dominant expressions of Canadian hockey-style masculinity?

 2. How do mothers understand their roles in producing and challenging appropriate expressions of gender in their sons?

If you are (or have been) the mother of a CHL hockey player and you would like to participate in this work I would love to speak with you.