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JOINT Fund series: This Woman Does!

16 May 2019

3 mins

As part of the JOINT Fund initiative, Dr Holly Collison and Dr Ksenija Kuzmina share their progress on their ‘Women in the Workforce: Exploring working women’s relationship with physical activity and exercise’ research.

Aims of the project:

The objective of this study is to better understand the relationship and experiences working women have with physical activity and exercise. This is a case study project supported by Sport England to explore the opportunities, barriers and challenges working women face to engage in physical activity within and outside of the workplace. There is existing knowledge of the potential cultural, social, economic and family influenced factors which may dictate and impact upon decision making and opportunities for women to be active, however this has rarely been explored in relation to employment and the experiences of working women. 

This research will explore the everyday physical activity levels of a sample of working women from the NHS, education and service sectors. The primary objective is to better understand the everyday realities, challenges and issues presented to working woman and how this affects relationships with exercise and engaging with specific forms of physical activity. The aim is to observe working patterns, spaces and, access and opportunities to exercise, whilst tracking daily steps, heartrate and distance covered to construct diverse narratives and visual ethnographies of working women.

The research aim is informed by a sandpit event run by the lead researchers in collaboration with Sport England (please read here).

Progress so far:

Research assistants with expertise in design research and data visualisation, physical education and ethnography have been identified and recruited as part of the research team. Participants (11) from the NHS, education and service sectors have been recruited and the preliminary persona templates and interviews are being conducted. Fitbits have been purchased and have started to be administered to record activity levels for the women over a 6-week period. This will enable the researchers to pursue a mixed-methods approach to both contextualise and construct a visual representation of the everyday realities of working women and their relationship with physical activity.

The lead researchers will also be video-capturing the final interviews and are undertaking technical training to achieve this to professional standards.

Key challenges and successes so far:

The level of enthusiasm and support from employers has been very encouraging and access to employment spaces and the women has been a smooth process that has needed little negotiation. Managing shift work and diverse working patterns is a challenge, particularly as we are committed to ensuring we do not disrupt the ‘norm’ and we are able to accommodate their schedules. Ethics approval for NHS has also been a challenge and time consuming due to organisation’s external approval process.


For more information on their research, please contact Holly Collison.

You can also find out more about the JOINT Fund by reading our news story and keep up-to-date on this year’s projects by checking our blog.

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