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Data Analysis

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Data Analysis: The Social Factors that Contribute to Lack of Participation in Sports by Female High School Students

It is a fact that there is an underrepresentation of women in sports at all educational levels. Despite the well-documented benefits associated participation in sports, female participation is yet to match the level of male students’ participation. Schools have adopted structural reforms aimed at improving female participation in sporting activities; however, these structural reforms have been effective in encouraging female students to take up sports in learning institutions (Brake, 2001; Kaestner & Xu, 2010). There is vast empirical research on the issue of lack of female participation in sport activities; however, relatively few studies have explored the social factors at the individual level that are likely to influence a female student’s decision on whether or not to participate in sports (Huang & Humphreys, 2012; Pfeifer & Cornelißen, 2010). Thus, the specific problem being investigated in this study is the identifying the social factors that contribute to lack of participation in sports by high school female students in order to help developing measures that address the social issues identified that have not been addressed by structural measured spelled out under legislations such as Title IX.

Purpose of the Study

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The primary objective of the qualitative grounded theory research was to determine the social factors contribution to lack of participation in sports by female high school students. In order to achieve this research objective, the study gathered the views of female high school students, both participants and non-participants of sport with respect to the social factors that either encourage or discourage them from taking part in sport. Information was gathered using open-ended questions, which were later analyzed to determine the specific factors that either encouraged or discouraged female high school students from participating in sporting activities at their respective schools.

Data Collection

Data for the study was gathered using a survey research strategy executed using semi-structured interviews. The researcher conducted 15 interviews administered face-to-face with participants, who were sampled from a loal high school. The researcher opted to use 15 interviews because data saturation had been achieved by the time of interviewing the 15th participant, and there were no new emerging information from the participants (Daymon & Holloway, 2010). The interview protocol that guided the semi-structured interview focused primarily on social factors as well as their role in influencing the behaviors and attitudes of female high school students towards participation in sport. Specifically, the semi-structured interviews was guided by three questions, which included: (a) level of participation in sport activities; (b) reason for participating or not participating; (c) social factors that influence the attitudes of female student towards sports; and (d) exploring ways that can be used to encourage participation in sports by female high school students. Other aspects that were captured during the semi-structured interview included ethnicity, religion and social economic status. The study sample comprised of female students aged between 15 and 19 years. Before commencing the interview, the interviewed engaged the interviewee in discussions in order to help interviewees to have an understanding of the topic under investigation and to make sure that crucial aspects of sport participation and social factors were not ignored (Silverman, 2013).

The female students taking part in the interviews were recruited through the researcher’s personal contacts at the local high school. Sample diversity was achieved through screening of potential participants in order to achieve sample diversity in terms of ethnicity (O'Reilly, 2012). The sample comprised of two Asians, four African-Americans, four Hispanics, and five Whites, which represented the diverse groupings of the student population in terms of ethnicity. The interviews were conducted during the first week of February 2014 with each interview lasting for about 30 minutes.

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Data Analysis

Female high school students who participated in the research did not raise any objection with respect to the recording of the interview sessions. All qualitative data collected during the interview were transcribed word for word, after which the data was entered and coded into NVIVO software for analysis (Padgett, 2004). Thematic content analysis was used in the analysis of the data, which entailed looking for dominant themes as well as deriving explanaations from the transcribed data. Thematic content analysis commences with identifying and interpreting themes present in the interview data, and then analyzing any relationships that may exist between the themes that may have been identified from the data. The analysis produced recurring and dominant themes associated with the social factors encouraging and discoursing female high school students’ participation in sports activities. Furthermore, based on the review of literature, some of the themes that the researcher looked for included the influence of culture, family background, religion, peer grouping and gender among other social influences (Brake, 2001). In addition, the data analysis was performed with reference of the levels of participation in sports activities reported by the participants. As a result, the social factors encouraging or discouraging female high school students’ participation in sports activities was presented for each group based on always, sometimes and never participating.

Presentation of Findings

This research gathered a vast amount of data that helped the researcher to answer the research questions and meet the objectives of the study. The results are structured in accordance to the level to which female students participate in sports activities. Specifically, the study presents the social factors that influence participation in sport for each group of participants in terms of never, sometimes and always participate. In addition, participant’s quotes are incorporated into the findings in order to provide further illustrations of the identified themes.


The qualitative grounded theory research had the main objective of determining the social factors contributing to lack of participation in sports activities by female high school students. The study also sought to explores ways through which female sports’ participation could be improved. Data for the study was gathered using a survey research strategy executed using semi-structured interviews, which was helpful in gathering vast amounts of qualitative data. Qualitative data from the recordings were transcribed verbatim, after which they were coded and input into NVIVO software for qualitative analysis. Thus, the results are structured in accordance to the level to which female students participate in sports activities.

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