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University of Vermont Theses & Dissertations

Woods, Melyssa
The Role of Vulnerability in Athletics: Applications for Future Female Leaders in Combating Feelings of Shame and Weakness
Growing up as fairly successful female-athlete, I have always felt somewhat undermined and frustrated when I take a look at the double-standards and social injustice compared to those male counterparts. When it comes to intercollegiate athletics, so much integrity has been lost because of this injustice, as well as the ‘win at all costs’ mentality. Through my upbringing and the many positive experiences that came into play, however, I have been raised to uphold a strong level of integrity and live my life with honesty. By living and leading with authenticity, feelings of vulnerability and shame often come up. As a female leader, these vulnerable feelings are often shielded and masked in order to better suit the patriarchal athletic society. Through my personal experiences in the sport world, I have found that accepting one’s vulnerability is a method to grow as a leader. By tackling feelings of shame directly, female leaders take on a new meaning of resiliency. Through the process of evaluating my own personal experiences of resiliency during the stages of childhood, collegiate athlete, collegiate coach, and female leader, I have come up with universal applications that look at the role of vulnerability in leadership.

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