Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Sport Management

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

E. Nicole Melton

Second Advisor

Nefertiti Walker

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Delia

Fourth Advisor

Linda Griffin

Subject Categories

Sports Management


The sport industry has historically struggled to diversify its workforce. However, shifting racial and ethnic demographics in the United States in the coming decades, and greater numbers of individuals identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT), will soon force its hand. Recruiting and retaining a talented workforce from a diverse labor pool will require that sport organizations ensure their workplaces are inclusive spaces where employees can present their authentic selves without fear. Unfortunately, employees from marginalized groups often face implicit and explicit pressures to downplay aspects of their stigmatized identity through identity covering, which can have negative effects for the individual as well the organization. In this dissertation, I carried out three studies to investigate the covering phenomenon at various stages of the employment process: application (Study One), hiring decision (Study Two), and full-time employment (Study Three). Studies One and Three investigated identity covering from the perspective of the marginalized individual, while Study Two investigated how identity covering is perceived by hiring decision makers. Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and participant observation (shadowing) revealed that covering is a nuanced phenomenon, and as such understanding the contextual complexities present in a given scenario helps us understand when, how and why individuals engage in covering. Additionally, covering involves a constant, conscious effort on the part of marginalized individuals, which can come at a steep personal cost while also giving them sought after rewards. Finally, marginalized individuals are beginning to see their stigmatized identities as strengths, particularly in traditionally homogeneous environments such a sport that need to be more intentional about their diversity and inclusion. As these individuals begin to gradually embrace more of their authentic selves at work, the need for covering may subside.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.