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Personal profile


Ruth is Professor and Head of School - Curriculum, Teaching and Inclusive Education within the Faculty of Education. Ruth is a sociologist whose research interests focus on the use of sport and active recreation as a community development resource, particularly to address social exclusion amongst acutely marginalised groups.

Ruth's research has attracted a range of external funding. She is lead investigator on a recently awarded ARC Linkage grant 'Informal sport as a health and social resources amongst diverse young people' ($250,000) with co-investigators Dr Justen O' Connor, Professor Dawn Penney and Professor Ramon Spaaij and in partnership with VicHealth, Centre for Multicultural Youth, Cricket Victoria and the Department of local governernment, sport and cultural industries. This study builds on a recently completed project also funded by the ARC Linkage scheme ($200,000) for a project 'Participation versus performance: Managing (dis) ability, gender and cultural diversity in Junior Sport'. The grant team was led by Professor Ramon Spaaij from Victoria University.

Methodologically Ruth seeks to give voice to disempowered individuals and communities within her research by drawing on a range of participatory approaches developed from her PhD. Ruth's PhD thesis utilised feminist post-structuralism to examine the role of sport and specifically soccer in the construction of girls' gender identities and she has developed this area to research and continues to publish on how constructions of gender and sport can facilitate and constrain girls' involvement in sport.

More recently, Ruth's research has examined the role of sport in assisting young homeless men to connect with support services, to support identity (re) construction amongst men experiencing mental illness, and the ways in which newly arrived and refugee committees use sport when settling in Australia. Ruth has an ongoing interest in examining the experiences of young people with disabilities in sport and leisure contexts.   Internationally she has undertaken extensive research work in Zambia, examining the role of sport in HIV/AIDS education as a tool to empower young women and as means to foster hope and a sense of community amongst both men and women living in highly impoverished urban compounds. 

Ruth regularly conducts evaluations examining the impact of sport and social change initiatives for national and international agencies including UNICEF, the Football Foundation and Centre for Multicultural Youth. 

Ruth is a member of several journal editorial boards including the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Sociology of Sport Journal and Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. She is also Associate Editor of Leisure Sciences Journal

Research interests

  • Sport and international development
  • Social policy, sport and social justice
  • Gender and sport
  • Disability and Sport 
  • Sport and mental health

Supervision interests

I am interested in supervising students at PhD and masters level in the areas reflecting my research interests. 

Monash teaching commitment


  • EDF2172 Applied movement contexts in health and physical education 1
  • EDF3172 Inclusion and Diversity in Movement contexts
  • EDF3071 Community development and partnerships

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research area keywords

  • Social Inclusion
  • Sport
  • Equity
  • Diversity
  • gender
  • Disability
  • physical activity
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Sexuality
  • policy analysis
  • community development
  • feminist poststructural theory
  • Enhancing health and wellbeing
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Educating for Diversity and Inclusion
  • LGBTQIA+ Wellbeing
  • mental health

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or