Yamile Gonzalez made history as she become the first graduate student who successfully completed a sport management master’s thesis at West Virginia University.
Gonzalez came to WVU from Guadalajara, Mexico, in the fall of 2019. She initially enrolled in the traditional industry track of the CPASS sport management master’s program. After a year, she chose to change to the thesis track. “In the traditional track, it was not required for me to write a master’s thesis, but I opted to do it because I wanted to learn how to conduct research," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez’s master thesis “Gender Imbalance in Sport Leadership in Latin America” examined gender disparity at the leadership level within sport organizations across Latin America. Gonzales studied how social and human capital, the socio-cultural aspects of each country across the region and the power-based discourses affect the advancement of women’s careers in sport management.
Gonzalez conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 high ranking officials, all female sport administrators holding the position of president, vice-president, or secretary-general of a National Olympic Committee, National Paralympic Committee, or a Sport Federation in seven countries in Latin America.
“With this master thesis, I wanted to leave a small contribution that might serve for the purpose to advance further research in regard to gender imbalance in Latin America,” Gonzalez said. She is considering applying for a PhD.
Writing a thesis was a challenging, fulfilling experience, specifically during the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Gonzalez used academic waivers awarded by CPASS to make it possible. “My academic journey at WVU was possible thanks to the support I received through academic waivers. Otherwise it would have been almost impossible from a financial standpoint,” she said.
Gonzalez’s master’s thesis committee included faculty from three colleges: Gonzalo Bravo, advisor, and Sean Bulger from CPASS; Cheyenne Luzynski from Eberly College, and Melissa Sherfinski from the College of Education and Human Services.
Gonzalez encourages upcoming students to consider the thesis track. “The resources available at West Virginia University, including its faculty, is an excellent starting point to give master’s students the opportunity to learn how to conduct research and explore issues in the sport industry that have many significant implications for society,” Gonzalez said.
For more than forty years, the on-campus sport management master’s program has had a clear industry focus, where students are prepared to succeed in the highly competitive sport industry. In 2018, CPASS sport management faculty launched the thesis track option for those students who wanted to advance their education and eventually pursue a doctoral degree.