Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



This study focused on the personal and work-related experiences of high school and college female football officials. The purpose of this study was to gain a holistic perspective of the experiences of these women working in the male-dominated career of football officiating. Previous literature has examined sports officials in regards to retention, recruitment, and their safety, but relatively little research has focused specifically on female football officials. The participants were able to share their unique experiences in this vocation. Qualitative research was employed in order to illustrate the experiences of female football officials. The theoretical framework for this study was based on the feminist perspective along with social role theory (Eagly, 1997). A case study methodology was used with eight purposeful and criterion selected participants. In-depth interviews were conducted with each participant and served as the primary source of data collection. Data was thoroughly analyzed and coded using open, axial, and selective coding methods. The data was then used to answer the studies research questions and the following three themes emerged: 1) Sense of Community and Support; 2) Varied Gender Experiences Officiating Football; and 3) Passion for Officiating and the sport of Football. The findings from this study illustrate that women have the ability and the knowledge to officiate in the masculine sport of football. The participants have become role models to other women that may not have known football officiating was an occupation accessible to them. The findings of the study have implications for various constituencies, including aspiring and current female football officials, male football officials, coaches, players, spectators, and officiating administrators. The information and data gathered from this study may assist officiating associations with their recruitment and retention of female officials, as well as add to the literature on gender equity in sport and on females working in male-dominated sport careers. Recommendations for further research include: exploring the experiences of women officiating in other male sports such as wrestling or baseball, interviewing a larger sample of female officials, and researching the topic of female sports officials using a different theoretical framework than was used in the current study.


sports, officiating, football, qualitative, case study, gender equity

Document Type




Degree Name

Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Barnes, John

Second Committee Member

Seidler, Todd

Third Committee Member

Hushman, Glenn

Fourth Committee Member

Warner, Stacy