Gender and diversity competence in sport studies programs in higher education

  • Karolin Heckemeyer Institute Pre-Primary and Primary, School for Teacher Education FHNW
  • Marianne Meier Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies (ICFG), University of Bern
  • Matthias Grabherr Swiss Federal Institute of Sport Magglingen (SFISM)
Keywords: gender, diversity, higher education, sport



Inclusion and diversity have become increasingly important in the context of sport in recent years. Numerous sports organizations and sports policymakers are committed to enable more inclusive sport. Led by the idea of a sport for all, everyone should be able to participate in sport regardless of gender, sexuality, dis_ability, race, or class.

Inclusive sport does not only require specific structural conditions. It also demands social actors who have the skills to deal with the challenges of social diversity in an open, appreciative, and innovative way. Coaches, officials, teachers, journalists, and economists working in the field of sport need to be familiar with the topics of gender equity, diversity, and inclusion. This is where the project “Understanding and Experiencing Diversity” (funded by the Swiss Federal Office for Sport) comes in. It aims to develop and test a concept for promoting gender and diversity competence in sport-related higher education, thus enabling social actors to shape sport in a diversity-conscious and inclusive way.


The project is being carried out over a period of three years and consists of four project phases. After a phase of conceptual clarification regarding the theoretical framework and terminology, current approaches to gender and diversity competence (in the sport studies context) are being critically analysed. Against this background, phases three and four of the project will focus on the development of a sport-related teaching concept for gender and diversity competence and its testing at three different universities.


The understanding of gender and diversity competence developed in this project is theoretically based on the “trilemma of Inclusion” by Boger (2019). It thus refers to inclusion and non-discrimination as a complex structure of normalization, deconstruction, and empowerment. This is also linked to an intersectional perspective on social differentiation and discrimination (Degele & Winker, 2011).

Regarding the promotion of gender and diversity competence in higher education, the attitude of social actors towards diversity and inclusion proves to be particularly important. This aspect has not yet been systematically considered in the context of sport-related higher education in German-speaking countries. The teaching concept developed in this project therefore emphasizes the aspect of attitude (Rischke et al., 2017).


Boger, M. A. (2019). Theorien der Inklusion: Die Theorie der trilemmatischen Inklusion zum Mitdenken [Theories of inclusion: The theory of trilemmatic inclusion to think about]. Edition Assemblage.

Degele, N., & Winker, G. (2011). Intersektionalität als Beitrag zu einer gesellschaftstheoretisch informierten Ungleichheitsforschung [Intersectionality as a contribution to inequality research informed by social theory]. Berliner Journal für Soziologie, 21(1), 69–90.

Rischke, A., Heim, C., & Gröben, B. (2017). Nur eine Frage der Haltung? Eine empirische Analyse von personen- und institutionenbezogenen Einflussgrößen auf die Einstellungen von Sportlehrkräften der Sekundarstufe I zur schulischen Inklusion [Just a question of attitude? An empirical analysis of personal- and institutional-related variables of the attitudes of secondary school physical education teachers on school inclusion]. German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research, 47(2), 149–160.

How to Cite
Heckemeyer, K., Meier, M., & Grabherr, M. (2024). Gender and diversity competence in sport studies programs in higher education. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 9(2), 009.
Symposium 3: Gender and diversity concepts in sport and physical education: Long-standing issues, current developments, future prospects