Powerlifting and weightlifting are sports that historically speaking have been dominated by men. However, in recent years, more women are becoming interested at all levels - youth, senior and veteran classes.
In their research project "När kvinnor lyfter - flickors och kvinnors föreställningar om och erfarenheter av styrkeidrott" ("When Women Lift - Girls' and Women's Notions of and Experiences from Weightlifting/Powerlifting"), Linda Vixner and Åsa Bartholdsson study how women who are active within this field of athletics describe their journey and the experiences they have of being active in what has traditionally been a male-dominated field.
"The growing group of women of all ages who are going into these sports present challenges to the norms of gender and age. It's about winning over deep socially and culturally established lines," explains Linda Vixner.
The work has involved interviews with 13 women, ages 18-65, who have been involved in sports such as weightlifting, powerlifting and CrossFit. A further smaller-scale study involved interviews of girls in preschool to hear their views on strength and on who they perceive to be strong in relation to gender and age.
The growing interest among women of all ages in these sports falls in line with the work being done by Riksidrottsförbundet, whose general goal with equality is to ensure that there are equal opportunities for everyone to be involved in sport, regardless of gender.
"We hope that what we learn from the project can be instrumental in recruiting, retaining and supporting girls and women within these sports, and as a result promote equality, health and life-long physical exercise," says Linda Vixner.
Linda Vixner is Senior Lecturer in Medical Sciences at Dalarna University. Åsa Bartholdsson is Associate Professor in Educational Work at Stockholm University. Their research project commenced in 2017.