3 // Paul Bowell

Behind the numbers: Women Australian Rules footballers’ subjective experiences of digital self-tracking

Sport Innovation Research Group
Swinburne University of Technology

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Paul Bowell is a PhD candidate within the Sport Innovation Research Group at Swinburne University of Technology. Paul’s research project seeks to understand how women Australian Rules footballers affectively experience digital self-tracking, and what impacts these interactions have on the player’s construction of selfhood, identity-making, and body as athletes. With these insights he aims to develop a framework that empowers women footballers to maximise their performance through digital self-tracking, while promoting positive self-image and women athletes’ identity.

Paul obtained a Bachelor of Arts with Honours specialising in sociology from The Australian National University. Paul’s Honours project, in which he achieved First-Class Honours, investigated the compliance processes of employees who were digitally self-tracked in their workplace. As an undergraduate Paul was awarded a New Colombo Plan scholarship that allowed him to participate in an ethnographic field school in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). During the ethnographic field school in PNG Paul conducted fieldwork activities including interviews, survey taking, and social and participant observations focused on the social restrictions of cash cropping. Paul has also worked at Deakin and La Trobe Universities lecturing and tutoring first and second year undergraduate sociology and sports management units.  Paul is also a board member for the Sports Innovation Research Group advisory board. A position he has held since May 2022. 

Paul and I spoke  after the first day of the 2022 Conference of the Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand – a.k.a., SMAANZ. I had only met Paul that same day, and yet we easily fell into a wide-ranging conversation about his academic journey and women’s sport. Two days later, Paul won the 2022 SMAANZ three-minute thesis award. Did our chat spur him to victory? Some things are not for us to know.

This episode of The Knowledge Mill was recorded on November 30, 2022 on the campus of Swinburne University of Technology during the 28th Annual SMAANZ Conference.

Show Notes

Swinburne University of Technology

Swinburne Sport Innovation Research Group

Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ)

AFL Women’s

James Cook University

Australian National University

Associate Professor Gavin Smith

Deakin University

La Trobe University

Dr Katherine Raw

Professor Emma Sherry

Dr Kasey Symons

Dr Aurélie Pankowiak

Professor Nefertiti Walker

Professor Holly Thorpe

Dr Marianne Clark

Dr Nirmal Puwar

Tayla Harris

Photo furore: Tayla Harris slams internet trolls as ‘animals’

Sarah Styles

Madison Prespakis

Daisy Pearce

Ellie Carpenter

Kyah Simon

National Women’s Rugby League (NRLW)

Professor Tracy Taylor

2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Matildas (Australian Women’s National Football Team)

United States Women’s National [Football] Team

Monster MCG crowd a ‘game changer’

Record crowd sees Barcelona Women beat Real Madrid in Champions League

Georgie Prespakis

Abbey Holmes

Meg Lanning

‘Overly sensitive’: Kane Cornes sparks fierce Ashes debate

Pat Cummins

Alyssa Healy

Libby Birch

Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL)

Ellyse Perry

Major sponsors stick with Netball Australia despite Hancock Prospecting pulling out of $15m deal

Super Netball introduces game-changing but controversial shooting rule

Coca-Cola’s Ronaldo fiasco highlights risk to brands in social media age


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The Knowledge Mill is a podcast about PhD researchers and their work. Each episode features a longform conversation with a PhD candidate, with a focus on how they found themselves doing a PhD and the research they’re undertaking.

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