Bridging brains: exploring neurosexism and gendered stereotypes in a mindsport



Punch S, Snellgrove M, Graham E, McPherson C & Cleary J (2023) Bridging brains: exploring neurosexism and gendered stereotypes in a mindsport. Leisure/Loisir, 47 (3), pp. 459-485.

Ingrained gendered discourses about women’s abilities and skills impact on their participation in leisure and sport. This paper argues that gendered stereotyping extends to the serious leisure context of mindsport in the form of neurosexism. The card game bridge is played by a roughly equal proportion of men and women but at elite-level male players significantly outperform female players worldwide. Based on 52 semi-structured interviews, the paper explores the everyday gendered assumptions that exist and are reproduced by elite bridge players. Many of the research participants draw on ideas of male brains being more rational, logical and competitive whereas women’s brains are perceived to be more emotive, unfocused and uncompetitive. These gendered stereotypes are used to explain and defend why more women are not playing at elite level. Such neurosexist and behaviourist assumptions actively reproduce inequality within mindsport to the detriment of women bridge players. This article shows that neurosexism reinforces ongoing, systemic inequalities around gendered experiences of serious leisure, thereby reproducing gendered inequalities and hindering greater participation and inclusion in mindsport.

Bridge; gender; inequality; brains; mindsport; neurosexism

Leisure/Loisir: Volume 47, Issue 3

Publication date31/07/2023
Publication date online31/12/2022
Date accepted by journal12/12/2022
PublisherInforma UK Limited

People (2)


Miss Jessica Cleary

Miss Jessica Cleary

PhD Researcher, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Professor Samantha Punch

Professor Samantha Punch

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Projects (1)

Bridge: A MindSport for All