I’m a New Zealand-based sports scholar focused on governance, gender, and gymnastics. A historian by training, my work has traversed issues of abuse and athlete rights in gymnastics, to the relationships between international federations and the IOC, to how the politics of the Cold War affected sport.
As a former international gymnast, my research has centred around the culture and the history of women’s gymnastics. Based on nearly a decade of research, my book, Degrees of Difficulty: How Women’s Gymnastics Rose to Prominence and Fell From Grace, was published by the University of Illinois Press in June 2021.
I’m passionate about turning this knowledge into actionable change for gymnastics. In August, 2020, I initiated with my fellow gymnastics researchers a statement based on our research. The “Eight actions to protect gymnasts from abuse,” advises organisations what they can do to address the culture of harm in gymnastics.
I’ve also worked closely with media to help spread these messages. I’ve written for the Washington Post, and my research and commentary has contributed to articles in the New York Times, the Guardian, and many radio shows and podcasts. You can find more details of these – and have a listen – on the media page. The podcasts are a great place to start if you want to understand more about the culture of gymnastics. The articles published by FiveThirtyEight and Defector show the significance of this research and will be of interest to gymnastics fans and casual viewers alike.
I’ve also published more than 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on gymnastics and women’s leadership in sport. I’ve collaborated closely with other researchers to develop best practice recommendations for coaches and national governing bodies to create a more positive training environment for gymnasts. And my 2020 co-edited book Histories of Women’s Work in Global Sport: A Man’s World? was shortlisted for best anthology at the North American Society for Sport History. You can see the details of these works on the publications page.
In 2020, I won European Union funding for a project called “Engendered Sport.” That research would investigate how international sports federations and participants together create, enforce, and dismantle gender within their sports. I’m interested in how and why sports are organised along binary gender lines and how gender norms are regulated in sport through rules and performance expectations. This Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions fellowship was to be hosted by Örebro University starting in late 2021. But unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, I had to cancel this project. Nonetheless, this remains a key research interest of mine.
I am currently an honorary research fellow affiliated with the University of Western Australia. Research is not my full time job.
If you’d like to get in touch about socio-cultural-historical issues in gymnastics, the history of women’s sport or Cold War sport, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.