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  • Melissa A. Fallon, Counseling Center, State University of New York, College at Oneonta; LaRae M. Jome, Educational and Counseling Psychology Department, University at Albany, State University of New York.

  • This manuscript is based on Melissa A. Fallon's dissertation project, conducted under the direction of LaRae M. Jome. This project was presented at the 2006 Annual Association for Women in Psychology conference in Ypsilanti, MI. We would like to express our deepest appreciation to the coding team: Sarah Heimel, Heidi Park, Kristen Maul, Beckie Hanson, and Tracy Wilcox. Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the contributions of the athletes who participated in this study for sharing their stories with openness, courage, humor, and generosity.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Melissa A. Fallon, State University of New York, College at Oneonta, Counseling Center, 101 Counseling, Health and Wellness Center, Oneonta, NY 13820. E-mail:


Gender-role conflict theory has suggested that women athletes will experience role conflict because they are attempting to enact both feminine and masculine gender roles, yet research findings have shown mixed support for this notion. The purpose of this study was to explore how women rugby players negotiate gender-role expectations and conflict as women participating in a traditionally masculine sport. Eleven Caucasian women, noncollege rugby players between the ages of 25 and 38 were interviewed. The results indicated that women rugby players perceived numerous discrepant gender-role expectations. In addition, three different types of gender-role conflict emerged; however, similar to previous findings, participants perceived conflicting expectations for their gender-role behavior more than they seemed to experience conflict about those expectations. Participants actively employed various strategies to resolve or avoid experiencing gender-role conflict. The resiliency displayed by the women athletes in coping with discrepant gender-role messages provides new considerations for gender-role conflict theory.