Vol. 12 2021, pages 1–31
Published March 9, 2021
Social climbers in the gymnasium: An analysis of the female students who graduated from the Swedish School of Sports Science’s gymnastics teacher course in 1972
In the early summer of 1972, 69 young women graduated from the Swedish School of Sports Science and were thus given the prestigious title of Gymnastic Director. The aim of this article is to analyse the professional careers of the graduates. This is done by means of a collective biographical study of the 43 who answered a questionnaire. To widen the scope the answers have been compared with results from studies of women who graduated from the school in 1893 and 1932. In terms of age and geographical origin the women who graduated in 1972 did not differ in any significant way from their predecessors. However, they differed from them in several other regards, including social background. Until the middle of the 20th century this education had been for the daughters of the elite, in the early 1970s it was an education for young and ambitious daughters of the Swedish welfare state with career ambitions. They were also able to sustain their careers when they started a family. In light of what we know about them, it is right to categorize them as successful social climbers, which thanks to the social broadening of higher education were given previously unseen opportunities to utilize their talent.
About the Authors
HANS BOLLINS is a doctor of history and an independent researcher. His research interest touches on sport and history in the broadest sense, from local sports associations and physical education to the economic and social significance of sport´s global mega-events. Bolling has recently published books or articles on the history of one of Sweden’s leading ice hockey clubs, Sport and Sápmi, gymnastics in the city of Gothenburg, a chapter in a report for The Swedish Sports Confederation on social benefits of sport and with Leif Yttergren several articles on the professional careers and lives of Swedish female gymnastic directors from the late 19th century and onward.
LEIF YTTERGREN is an Associate Professor and senior lecturer in sport sciences at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm. His research is in the fields of Olympic history, especially the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, traditional games, as well as ski and track and field history. Yttergren is currently working on a project concerning the life stories and professional careers of physical education teachers in Sweden 1890–2020