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The Evolution Of Women In Ice Hockey

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In my paper, I will be discussing the evolution of women in hockey. Although the past, present and future of hockey is believed by most to be male dominant, women have just as much of as a history in hockey. Women have fought through the many barriers, such as patriarchy, constructions of femininity, and inequality, all which will be discussed further in paper, and have made hockey their game, just as men have. Despite the many challenges faced by women in not only the real world, but also in the world of hockey, many strides have been made through history, and in today’s society women are as prominent in hockey as ever. I will be using this paper to guide my readers through the history of women’s hockey, focusing mainly on Canadian hockey, outlining the key events, and overall prove that women have, and continue, to fight to change the game of hockey.

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When the first ever organized hockey game was played on March 3, 1875, in Montreal, there was not one woman on the ice that day. Most of the teams, leagues and tournaments in the early leagues of hockey were made up of men, and hockey was considered to be a man’s game. Although the game was played by women, the first record of an organized game did not come until 1891, so 16 years later. To conclude, in the early years of hockey, its players and organizers were dominantly male.

After WWI, the claimed “Golden Age” of women’s sports began in Canada. This was between the 1920’s and 1930’s that women began to participate and they became more recognized as athletics to the public, and the press. During WWI, women began to replace the jobs of men who went off to fight in the war. This entailed woman to work in factories, and start jobs that were much more physical than they were known to do. Furthermore, in WW2, women began to join the military. This brought women together because they had to work together, and this sparked the fight for equality in terms of rights and pay. These changes in work also taught women that they were just as capable as males, although at this time basic ideas about gender remained the same, change was brewing. The Ladies Ontario Hockey Association was also created in the early 1920’s, which provide a legitimate governing body for women’s hockey.

There were many events that should be noted when it came to the development of women in hockey. In around 1980, Lord Stanley’s daughter was photographed using a puck and a stick, and she became to be pioneer in the women’s game, As stated above, The Ladies Ontario Hockey Association was an important step for women. In 1933, the Dominion Women’s Amateur Hockey Association was founded, and a trophy was donated by Lady Bessborough, who was the wife of the Governor General of Canada at the time. Also stated above, in 1891 the first record of a women’s organized game was recorded by an Ottawa newspaper. By the early 1990’s, women hockey teams were common in most provinces. What is hockey like now for women/what recent strides have been made.

Today, many women’s hockey leagues exist, an example being the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), which in itself, is a great difference from the beginning of hockey for women. One of the very recent strides made, was the female participation in the 2019 All-star skills completion. Olympic champion Kendall Coyne made history as the first woman to compete in the completion, and impressed the NHL’s biggest stars with her speed and skill. Along with this, The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired Hayley Wikenheirser, who is one of the most famous women’s hockey players, as their skills coach. These are among the many steps in the right direction for women in hockey today.

Despite the many economic and political challenges faced by women off the ice, along with the inequalities faced by women on the ice and throughout the history if hockey, women have united and fought through these challenges together, and have found a way to turn a male dominated game into their own.

10 December 2020

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