Roller derby empowers women in China

roller derby players
Roller derby is a rising action sport across the globe.

The rise in popularity of action sports such as roller derby on women in China is the focus of a new study by Griffith University sociologist Dr Adele Pavlidis.

“Action sports are often used as tools for integration, empowerment and leadership development,’’ she says.

“Roller derby is growing in popularity throughout the world including China, a country where traditionally action sports have not been considered feminine.

“Our project aims to shed light on the complex relationship between globalisation, sport and gender.”

Over the past two years ex-patriot workers have brought roller derby to China from the US, UK and Australia. Roller derby leagues are now established in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Developed in the US in 2001, the sport has quickly spread globally with more than 900 leagues throughout the world and 35,000 participants, mostly female.

“This is partly because of the sports’ emphasis on creativity and music, as well as its competitiveness,’’ Dr Pavlidis said.

“These types of sports have been celebrated for the emancipatory potential for girls and women.”

Dr Adele Pavlidis.
Dr Adele Pavlidis.

Dr Pavlidis, the author of Sport, Gender and Power: the Rise of Roller Derby, is working in collaboration with Professor Jinxia Dong from Peking University (as part of a Collaborative Research Scheme betweenthe two universities).

She will travel to Beijing later this year to interview Chinese roller derby team members. Professor Dong will travel to Australia and interview Australian members of roller derby teams.

Results from the study are expected to be completed in 2017.