Professor’s research focuses on the impact of women’s sports in advancing social change


Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., a former professional athlete, is passionate about driving meaningful change in sport while promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her research focuses on the growing interest in women’s sports, as well as how leagues, teams and athletes themselves are advocating for change.

March 15, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of Sports Management at the University.

For Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., research is an important way to explore issues that matter to her in the field of sport. As a former professional basketball player in Turkey, who suffered unequal treatment, she is passionate about making a difference in women’s sport – and pushing for change.

An expert in fan behavior, sports marketing, and marketing analytics, Dr. Mumcu has pursued academic work focused on women’s sports, diversity, equity, inclusion, and change. Last year, she was invited to join an interdisciplinary research group of scholars, and their proposal, “Communicating for Justice and Equality: Women’s Sport and Corporate Social Advocacy” has now received a grant and award that will support their work.

The group recently received the Mary Ann Yodelis Smith Award for Feminist Fellowship, awarded by the Association for Journalism and Mass Communication Education’s Commission on the Status of Women. The proposal also received a grant from the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Penn State University.

“I always try to research and contribute to topics that are close to my heart,” said Dr. Mumcu, Associate Professor and Chair of Sports Management at the University. “I constantly put all my effort into discovering or generating ideas, and to be recognized for our contribution is incredibly rewarding.

“While I was playing sports, the unequal treatment wasn’t just in terms of public attention or media and/or corporate interest,” she continued. “It also happens with clubs and in organizational structures. It’s something I’ve experienced personally, and it may be my life’s work to make a difference and help push for change.

“Big change for women’s sport”

The interdisciplinary group includes researchers whom Dr Mumcu describes as “incredible scholars” who work on similar topics but come from diverse backgrounds, including communication and sociology.

“I am so grateful to be part of the research group I work with,” Dr. Mumcu said. “It’s encouraging to see that there are like-minded people who have worked for the same cause.”

“We can improve the world through fairer opportunities for all.”Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D.

Dr Mumcu says women’s sports in the United States, which have historically received far less attention than men’s sports, have recently enjoyed “remarkable” commercial success. During the pandemic and as our lives and societies become increasingly digitized, she says viewership and interest has skyrocketed.

“We’ve seen big numbers, great ratings and an exponential increase in viewership,” said Dr. Mumcu, who was also a co-author of the first study on sports marketing to LGBTQ+ fans. . “Engagement on social media is increasing. Merchandise is sold out and in some cases out of stock. This shows a big change for women’s sport.

“The power to change the world”

Women’s sports are not only leading in terms of increased interest. They are also at the forefront of promoting social change. Dr Mumcu says that over the past few years, women’s sports leagues, teams and the athletes themselves have played a key role in promoting change and in “amplifying the voices of society for disadvantaged populations. “. As a researcher, this is something Dr. Mumcu has found inspiring and worth exploring.

“It gave us the opportunity to research and determine that women’s sports are more focused and involved in social change and activism than men’s sports,” she said. “It gives us the idea that we should probably look at how social advocacy actually happens in women’s sport. This is the best time to focus on this research, as things change daily.

Dr. Mumcu has discussed these trends with her students, who she says follow sports and industry trends closely. She says that, like much of society, they are also likely to follow traditional men’s sports more closely, and she hopes to help them see the bigger picture. The impact of women’s sports on social change and activism continues to be an important topic of discussion in her class.

“Students don’t always recognize the impact of women’s sports or women’s athletes,” she said. “This is an opportunity to impact the growth of future generations of professionals. We always talk about sport as a social institution with the power to change the world, so our contribution to that change, no matter how small, will have an impact on change. We can improve the world through fairer opportunities for all.


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