Published: 09-09-2011 00:00 | Updated: 07-07-2014 13:21

New book about masculinity, football and educational choices

A new book titled Playing the game: on masculinity, football and educational choices, in which young AIK players are interviewed about their views on masculinity and educational choices, has just been published by Karolinska Institutet and AIK football club. The results of the survey show that a male-only context where masculine norms are strong can influence views on educational options and other aspects of young men's lives.

"We want our education programmes to be attractive to girls and boys alike," says Sari Ponzer, Dean of Education at Karolinska Institutet. "The work that's been done on this with AIK has given us insight into how young men look upon education in the healthcare field. We'll now do what we can to increase the proportion of men on our study programmes."

Few young men apply to study on Karolinska Institutet's bachelor programmes, all of which have a gender imbalance; in some cases, only one per cent of the students on a particular programme are male. Karolinska Institutet now intends to change this by using the results presented in this book. A desire not to stick out or be seen us "unmanly" are important factors for the young AIK boys interviewed, as they believe that their team mates think they have to live up to the norms of masculinity. It is these considerations that Karolinska Institutet will bear in mind in its continuing efforts to make its study programmes more attractive to men. AIK will also be using the results to improve its own efforts to create a footballing environment that is open to all.

"Masculine norms are restrictive for the players both on and off the pitch," says John Wall, head coach for the `JA Tipselit´ project with AIK football. "The Spelar Roll scheme has enabled us to come up with ideas on how to bring each player to their full potential without getting bogged down in stereotypes. There's more to being a footballer than being a `technician´, `workhorse´ or `goal-scorer´.

`Spelar Roll - football and education in partnership´ is an equality project launched by Karolinska Institutet and AIK football club in 2010. Financed by the Delegation for Equality in Higher Education and due to conclude in December this year, the project was set up to expose the mechanisms linked to masculinity, norms and identity that govern young men's choice of occupation and education, and, in the long run, to break traditional gender patterns by changing attitudes about educational choices.