Personal profile

Overview

Elizabeth has worked at the University of Hertfordshire since August 2017, where she is Professor and Head of the Institute of Sport, having previously worked at St Mary's University and the University of Chichester.

Elizabeth’s work takes as its focus issues of equality, diversity and inclusion in and through sport.  She has published widely on these topics and has been an invited speaker, researcher and advisor at many Universities and conferences across the globe, including numerous media appearances.  Her expertise has been recognised in her election to the Presidency of the International Sociology of Sport Association (ISSA), serving as a voluntary Executive Board member from 2008-2019.  During her tenure as President, she established the ISSA as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.  In 2019 she was awarded Fellowship of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), in 2021 she was awarded the inaugural Life and Medical Sciences Athena Swan Award for her work to promote equality, and in 2023 she was identified by the Women in Sport and Exercise Academic Network (WiSEAN) as one of the top 10 individuals who have made a significant contribution to women's/girls’ sport and exercise and who are inspirational in their field.  She serves on the editorial board of the journals International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Fisica and Ciencias, Olimpianos, and Frontiers.

Elizabeth has particular expertise in the area of gender and sport.  She is the co-founder of the Anita White Foundation (AWF) and served as Chair of the AWF from 2011-2017.  During this time, she established partnerships with the Tanzanian National Sports Council to support women leaders in Tanzania, and with Females Achieving Brilliance to develop the Women’s Sports Leadership Academy which was shortlisted for the 2019 Beyond Sport Award for Gender Equality.  Since 2019, she has chaired the Management Group for the Women in Sport High Performance pathway (WISH), which is supported by Olympic Solidarity.  Elizabeth has published widely on topics related to women and sport, is currently editing the Routledge book series on Women, Sport and Physical Activity, and was part of the research team that was commissioned to produce the 2014 and 2018 Progress Reports for the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG).  She is the Research Lead for the IWG UK Secretariat 2022-2026, leading the Anita White Fund and serving as a member of the European Non-Government Sport Organisation's EQUIP (Equality in Practice) Expert Advisory Panel in a voluntary capacity.

Elizabeth is also a leading academic in the sociological understanding of physical activity and ageing.  She is Head of the Research Unit in Sport, Physical Activity and Ageing (RUnSPAA) which includes an international research team, policy-makers and practitioners, and former Associate Editor of the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.  She has been awarded ESRC grants to deliver research projects investigating physical activity for older women in the UK and Japan, and physical activity for people living with dementia.  She was an invited member of the international research team that produced a Consensus Statement on Physical Activity and Ageing, and is a member of the Alzheimer's Society Physical Activity Expert Advisory Group.

Elizabeth is committed to supporting students and early career researchers.  She has a long history of mentoring emerging scholars in the UK and other countries.  Her former PhD students have progressed to hold significant posts in Norway (Professor Simon Beames, Dr Lucy Piggott), South Africa (Dr Nana Adom-Aboagye), Taiwan (Dr Cheng-Wei Li), the UK (Dr Jordan Matthews, Dr Bethany Simmonds), and Switzerland/Zambia (Dr Lombe Mwambwa).  She has served as an examiner for more than 20 research degrees.  While President of the ISSA, she established an international mentor programme, and from 2017-2022 she voluntarily served as panel chair of the AWF’s Celia Brackenridge International Research Award. Elizabeth is actively engaged in charitable work, participating in sport-based activities to raise thousands of pounds for the Hospice movement, Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Air Ambulance.

Research interests

Main areas of research interest:

  • Sociology of sport
  • Women, sport and gender equity
  • Ageing, sport and physical activity
  • The contribution of the work of Erving Goffman to a sociological understanding of sport

Elizabeth has supervised 8 PhD students to completion, currently supervises 7 doctoral candidates and has examined more than 20 research degrees.

Teaching specialisms

Major teaching areas:

  • Sociology of sport
  • Sport development
  • Sport in an international context
  • Qualitative research methods

Commercial and public engagement

Elizabeth is:

  • Principal Investigator on ESRC-funded research projects related to physical activity for older adults
  • Co-founder of the Anita White Foundation, and the Women's Sport Leadership Academy
  • Past-president of the International Sociology of Sport Association
  • Co-author of numerous commissioned reports evaluating progress for women and sport, sport and disability organisations, and physical activity provision for young people

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