Meet Dr. McHugh – Enhancing sport experiences for women and youth

Dr. Tara-Leigh McHugh is a Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation at the University of Alberta and a researcher with the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI). Her research is broadly focused on addressing gender equity in sport, and enhancing sport and physical activity experiences for women, girls, and all youth.

“My research amplifies the voices of women and girls in sport literature, and their experiences must serve as the foundation for meaningful changes to sport practices and policies.”
- Dr. McHugh

Too often, women and girls are excluded from participating in sports for a multitude of reasons.

Inequities exist and persist, starting from a young age. Dr. McHugh believes sport has the potential to offer many physical, social, and mental benefits—and that we as a society need to be more intentional in making sure women and girls are included and represented in sports, so they have equal access to these benefits.

Why is this so important?

“Women and girls are missing out on all of the potential physical, social, and mental benefits of sport participation if they are excluded from sport,” said Dr. McHugh.

On a personal note, Dr. McHugh hopes to make meaningful changes through her research so her two daughters have equal access to the same opportunities presented to her son. 

Click below to watch a short video about Dr. McHugh's work:

She has extensive experience working with women, girls, and Indigenous youth. Her commitment to community-based participatory research has supported the success of her nationally funded program of research.

Some of Dr. McHugh’s recent publications include:

The AWHF is extremely proud to support the work of Dr. Tara McHugh and others like her, such as Dr. Margie Davenport and Dr. Amber Mosewich. Brilliant researchers like these women are leading the charge in providing an appropriate base of research and evidence for making effective changes to sport practices and policies, and ultimately working to remove gender bias.

Dr. McHugh is also funded by SSHRC (Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada) and SPRI (Sport Participation Research Initiative).

For more information on Dr. McHugh’s work, we encourage you to follow her on WCHRI, on Twitter at @taraleighmchugh and visit the UAlberta Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport and Recreation website at

To support more researchers like Dr. McHugh, please consider a donation to the AWHF.

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