15 years on, AGF Research Scholar Ashleigh Marshall’s study will shine new light on female sporting careers, a topic Amy Gillett planned to investigate

Today, the Amy Gillett Foundation is thrilled to announce its partnership with Victoria University to support a new PhD to investigate what we can do to support female athletes’ transitions to thriving careers beyond sport. 

Ashleigh Marshall has been awarded the third Amy Gillett Foundation Research Scholarship to support her research into how national sporting organisations can maximise opportunities for elite female athletes who suddenly need to transition into a new career.

Ms Marshall’s PhD is jointly funded by Victoria University and the Amy Gillett Foundation. The AGF is able to support this PhD through the generous donation of a silent philanthropist. Ms Marshall will be supported by Lead Supervisor Professor Clare Hanlon of Victoria University. 

Ms Marshall is a Sport Administration and Event Management professional who has worked at Mountain Bike Australia, Sport Australia and Badminton Queensland and holds a Master’s degree in Olympic Studies from the International Olympic Academy and University of Peloponnese. During her study, Ms Marshall will also work part time at the Amy Gillett Foundation assisting with research and policy as a Research Assistant.

When Amy Gillett was killed, she had commenced a PhD to investigate how women transitioned and adjusted to life after sport. Amy’s mother, Mary Safe, feels this work became Amy’s unfinished business. 

Titled, ‘Maximising opportunities for elite female athletes who suddenly need to transition into a new career’, Ms Marshall’s PhD will also be co-supervised by Associate Professor Camilla Brockett (Victoria University) and  Professor Murray Drummond (Flinders University). 

Amy’s study was to be supervised by Professor Murray Drummond, Director of the Sport, Health, Activity, Performance & Exercise (SHAPE) Research Centre at Flinders University.

Professor Drummond remembers Amy travelling the world cycling and working part-time on her PhD,

Amy Gillett’s family, teammates and the cycling community understand what it’s like for female athletes when a crash takes a life and changes everything. Amy’s teammates suffered major injuries and trauma and these women spent months and years recovering. In the aftermath of the crash, these women were prematurely propelled into life beyond the sport they loved. 

Louise Padgett (nee Yaxley) was a member of the Australian cycling team. She was training alongside Amy Gillett when the entire team was hit by an out-of-control car, killing Amy and severely injuring the other team members. 

The announcement of this scholarship marks the third PhD to be funded by the Amy Gillett Foundation. Dr Marilyn Johnson, Monash University Senior Research Fellow and AGF Research and Policy Manager, completed a PhD in 2011 with the support of the AGF, Cyclist safety: an investigation of how cyclists and drivers interact on the roads. PhD candidate Aaron McInnes is currently completing an evaluation of Sharing Roads Safely, to address how cyclists and heavy vehicle drivers can share the road more safely.

Research provided from these studies is vital to the foundation of the evidence-based approach adopted by the AGF in pursuit of safe cycling for all Australians. This research has been formative in helping the AGF develop policy positions, campaigns and education programs.

We also know that there is a direct correlation between cycling safety and female participation, the safer a community’s cycling infrastructure, the higher the number of women and children riding. Ms Marshall’s PhD will contribute greater understanding of how we can support women to pursue professional sporting careers like cycling by taking a holistic approach, and this will help increase the visibility of female cyclists and the need to make roads safe. 

Article by AGF Media

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