5 // Ashleigh Marshall

Maximising opportunities for elite women athletes who need to suddenly transition to a new career

Victoria University (Melbourne)

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Ashleigh Marshall is a sport administrator, sport event professional, and qualitative researcher. Ashleigh’s PhD research at the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University focuses on how national sporting organisations can maximise opportunities for elite women athletes who need to suddenly transition to a second career. She was awarded the Amy Gillett Foundation Research Scholarship to undertake this research.

Ashleigh has a passion for research that aims to benefit the sport industry, particularly in relation to opportunities for women and girls. She’s based in Brisbane, but enrolled in a university in Melbourne, so all aspects of her PhD have been completed online: coursework, meetings with supervisors and interviews with participants! In 2022 she won Victoria University’s “Visualise Your Thesis” competition; an international programme that challenges graduate researchers to present their research in a 60-second audio-visual explainer.

Ashleigh has worked at state and national sporting organisations in Australia as well as the federal agency for sport, the Australia Sports Commission. She completed her undergraduate studies – a Bachelor of Arts (with Honours) in Sports Studies, and a Bachelor of Science in Human Movement Science – at the University of Queensland, but travelled to Greece for her master’s degree. There, she completed a Master of Science in Olympic Studies, Olympic Education, and the Management and Organisation of Olympic Events. This degree is organised and awarded jointly by the University of Peloponnese and the International Olympic Academy (IOA). The IOA premises are located in Ancient Olympia, just ‘down the road’ from the Ancient Olympic Stadium.

Ashleigh is passionate about women and girls’ participation in sport. She coaches both netball and badminton to girls aged 12-18, and teaches swimming to children aged from 3 onwards. She likes to keep physically active herself and swims 2km most days.

Ashleigh and I spoke after the final day of the 2022 Conference of the Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand – a.k.a., SMAANZ. We met for the first time only a few days before, and immediately discovered we were good at making each other laugh. Because I can’t help myself, I’ve included an ‘outtake’ of these shenanigans at the start of the episode that will surely put a smile on your face. At the time of the podcast recording, Ashleigh was a second year PhD candidate. Presently, she’s a third year PhD candidate and is working toward submitting her thesis within the next six months.

This episode of The Knowledge Mill was recorded on December 2, 2022 on the campus of Swinburne University of Technology during the 28th Annual SMAANZ Conference.

Show Notes

Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ)

Victoria University (Melbourne)

Victoria University Institute for Health & Sport

Professor Claire Hanlon

Amy Gillett

Amy Gillett Foundation

Australian Sports Commission

The Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education (CAUTHE)


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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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