Hannah's academic background began initially in Sport and Exercise Science as an undergraduate at Middlesex University. During this time, they developed a growing interest in the psychological elements of this degree, leading them to undertake a psychology conversion year (MSc Psychology), also at Middlesex, followed by my MSc in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise here at Loughborough. Their own participation as a novice strongwoman competitor sparked their research interest in female strength sport participation and led them to continue their study at Loughborough and begin their PhD in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Their research aims to explore the notion of female strength and power through a specific examination of strongwoman, otherwise known as female strength athletics. In recent years there has been a burgeoning interest in ‘strength sports’ for women. However, societal ideologies regarding the gender-appropriateness of activities pose challenges to women’s participation in traditionally ‘masculine’ sports. Whilst proponents argue that a focus on strength for women is empowering, others cite concern that these activities can become recuperated into heterosexual normative gender roles. The extant research has focused largely on bodybuilding, an aesthetically judged sport in which female participants have been restricted by ‘femininity rules’. Responding to a lack of research on the sport of strongwoman, their research aims to further our understanding of female strength and power, as well as contribute to debates about the potential empowering nature of strongwoman and what it means for those taking part.