Revealing the Historic Inequalities within Women’s Football

Mar 14, 2021

EDU Resources

Engaging the past in acting out a football theatre play

This activity allows students to critically engage with the history of women’s football. Through a theatre play students are challenged to comprehend and deliver aspects of the script and to critically appraise the historical scenarios outlined.

In this article:


Emma Clarke (back row, second from left) made her British Ladies team debut in 1895 (Photo: Stuart Gibbs, Wikimedia Commons).

Emma Clarke (back row, second from left) (Photo: Stuart Gibbs / Wikimedia Commons).

Exploring the historic gendered stereotypes towards women playing football

What are the key contributors to the historical development of women’s football? By using a theatre play students will explore the world of women’s football in the early twentieth century. The play highlights key critical moments within the women’s game, such as World War I, the role of women in Inter-War Britain and the spectacle and growth of the women’s game. The play addresses gender, class, sexuality and racial stereotypes.

Revealing the Historic inequalities

This activity is targeted for students from 14 to 16 years old learning about the morele dilemma’s of the past and the present; it can be used in class to introduce questions about historic gender stereotypes as well the development of the role women play in society. By analysing the historical theatre play students can learn about stereotypes that existed towards women, understand the effect of Inter-War Britain upon Women’s football and analyse the social issues within the play and reflect upon key changes since 1921.

This lesson is a combination of frontal lecturing, watching/reading exercises, and group discussions. By using the theatre play no prior knowledge is necessary for teaching the lesson, but it is nonetheless an exciting way to engage students with questions around stereotypes and social issues and to let students debate and learn to respectfully disagree with different opinions. The construction of the arguments for discussion are guided by pre-prepared questions and worksheets.

Teaching Women’s history

The strength of this activity lies in the combination of challenging moral dilemmas from the past and the present and the historical development of women football in the early twentieth century England. This results in a lesson where students are able to develop critical thinking skills and develop their social and civic competences  in order to have a high-quality debate in the class.

Get the resource

You can access the learning activity on the eLearning Platform Historiana

On the Football Makes History website there are multiple stories related to this topic. There are the Life Stories of Emma Clarke, Nettie Honeyball and Mrs Graham all related to the start of women’s game in England. Lastly, there is also the story of Lily Parr, the story sketches out the earlier days of female football in England and beyond. 

This activity has been developed by Anika Leslie-Walker within the framework of the Football makes History project, which is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union as part of the Football History for Inclusion project.

Article Tags:   diversity  |   gender history  |   inclusion  |   racism

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Florrie Redford was a leading pioneer of women’s football, and a star centre-forward for Dick, Kerr Ladies in the 1920s playing in England, France and the United States. Her story is about pioneering in Women’s Football.

Mrs Graham: Promoting the Women’s Game

Helen was one of the founding figures of the women’s game. She was a suffragist and a campaigner for women’s rights. She was the first woman to set up the stall for serious women’s football.


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