Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Abe Oudshoorn

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Laura Misener


Background: People experiencing homelessness have been described as one of the most socially excluded groups in society due to their inequitable access to basic necessities (Everett 2009; Labonte, 2004). Particular consideration regarding social inclusion should be given to the unique vulnerabilities of sub-populations of those experiencing homelessness, such as women (Wesely & Wright, 2005) due to their increased rates of ‘hidden homelessness’ (Walsh et al., 2009) and experiences of violence and discrimination (Roschelle, 2017; Weiser et al., 2009). Community participation, particularly sports activities, have been cited as one method towards increasing social inclusion among people experiencing homelessness. However, differential access to sport activities have been found for women experiencing homelessness (Oudshoorn, Misener, Richards, unpublished). Exploring the barriers and facilitators to social inclusion for women experiencing homelessness, in addition to their experience of sports, may provide the information required to increase their access to community activities and result in increased inclusion.

Methods: Situated within a critical theoretical lens, qualitative thematic analysis was used to explore women’s homelessness, social inclusion, and sports. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews with eleven women residing in a multi-service shelter in a mid-size city. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and text quotes were extracted into code files. The codes were analyzed for themes relating to the research questions, paying particular attention to both similarities and differences among the participants (Lather, 1993). Quotes were then extracted and arranged into themes that expressed the participants’ experiences of social inclusion and sports.

Findings: Four themes emerged from the interviews: (a) poverty is exclusion, (b) housing is not (necessarily) a prerequisite for social inclusion, (c) women play sports, and (d) it’s just a piece of paper. These themes represent the barriers to and facilitators of social inclusion that the participants experienced, as well as their experiences and interests in sports.

Conclusion: The findings revealed that while women may be interested in sports as an opportunity to experience inclusion, they faced many barriers in accessing sports as a service for people experiencing homelessness. The findings of this study may inform organizational and government policy, and nursing practice, education, and research. Further intersectional research is needed to understand how gendered experiences of homelessness intersects for Indigenous or racialized persons.