In a world striving for equality and awash with male chauvinism, Nobubele Phuza’s research will strike a chord with many. Phuza’s body of work is an investigation into the idea that women must conform to the needs and desires of men. In terms of this definition, women would find it unattractive for a man to treat them equally or seek their input in decision making. This would be because of outdated beliefs that a man’s role is to lead and the woman is to follow. Phuza is probing the meaning of emphasised femininity and the expected attributes of a sportswoman. Her research focuses on netball which has, in some ways, reflected and reinforced appropriate ideas of female physicality and a culturally valued femininity. Netball is socially accepted as an appropriate sport for women, evidenced by its promotion for girls in schools, the number of teams, clubs, and leagues in existence and the invisibility of men’s netball in the media and society. Phuza hopes that the research will (re) center women in the discussion of gender and sport, and further complicate the conversation around gender socialisation by problematising the taken-for-granted cultural practices that we engage in daily.
Technology is an important part of the sport and enhances the experience of spectators, players, and officials. Although the study does not directly investigate these aspects, it recognises the impact of technology in women’s sport, through media, professionalisation, and overall experience.
Phuza holds a BSc. in Chemistry and Geology from Rhodes University and BA Hons in Sociology from Nelson Mandela University (NMU). She is currently enrolled for an MA in Sociology at NMU, with a focus on gender socialisation. Phuza also remains an activist within the higher education sector. She served in the Student Representative Council of 2017/18. She continues to advocate for the advancement of gender equality and anti-gender-based violence in the NMU community. Her current focus is on activist pedagogy through Activist ConneXions- a social activist platform that supports the decentralised growth of gender movement networks at NMU. Her scholarship is within these frameworks and has been presented at conferences like the Anthropology Southern Africa Conference 2018 and the 3rd BRICS Young Scientist Forum.