October 10, 2018 12:16 pm

Tonight, We Tackle Gender in Sports with Heather Berlin and Joanna Harper

On this week’s episode of Playing with Science, we’re investigating gender in sports. We tackle a range of topics from the inclusion and rule-making process of transgender and intersex athletes in professional sports to the overall gender divide that controls our sporting worlds.

Image showing gender symbols. © Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons.

Credit: © Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons.

To help give us a baseline understanding of the nuances of gender, Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly are joined by neuroscientist and StarTalk All-Stars host Heather Berlin, PhD. To get us inside the mind of the athlete, Gary and Chuck welcome Joanna Harper, medical physicist and transgender endurance athlete. (You can read Joanna’s article mentioned in the episode right here.)

You’ll hear how the biological interpretations of gender and societal interpretations of gender coincide in the realm of sports. We discuss why the conversation surrounding gender is not as simple as people make it out to be. In fact, as you’ll notice on this episode, none of the topics we discuss are easy to break down simply, because these are complex areas of discussion.

We discuss gender segregation from an early age and how that can impact child athletes. We explore the cultural and societal biases that surround gender segregation in sport. You’ll gain insight into how the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Association of Athletes Federations (IAAF), and the NCAA create guidelines when determining standards on which athletes can compete in which male and female sports. Joanna also offers up solutions other than the current methods, which are based on testosterone levels, that could rely on different bio-markers, making a more evidence-based determination process.

Chuck ponders why players like Lebron James and Usain Bolt are not in their own upper-elite category. All that, plus, we break down the new controversial ruling from the IAAF that will see athletes with higher levels of testosterone in the female classification events of the 400m, 800m, and 1500m be subject to medical treatment that will lower the amount of testosterone in their bodies.

Please join us tomorrow night for Gender in Sports, with Joanna Harper  right here on our website, as well as on our Playing with Science channels on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Ian Mullen