Gender, Equality, and ‘Gender Equality’ in World Athletics: The Constitution of a Global Norm by Private Regulatory Administration

World Athletics – “the sole competent international authority” for the original Olympic sport – has evolved from an exclusively male institution to a self-proclaimed “leading voice on issues of gender equality”. My research into this institutional evolution reveals less a process of norm internalization/translation and more a (continuous) process of norm creation/constitution. World Athletics has incrementally and unevenly adopted various reforms to incorporate women into its domain, which have together given meaning(s) to ‘gender’ and ‘equality’. The resulting norm of gender equality has conceptual tensions and ambiguities, precisely because it is constituted by a combination of discrete regulatory practices with distinct origins and trajectories. I explore how these regulatory practices develop through the administrative structures and processes of World Athletics, and continuously (re)shape ‘gender equality’ – a norm-in-progress privately created and publicly disseminated worldwide.