Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Harold L. Widvey


Many people still recall the years when contestants in debate and individual events were divided into a "men's" and "women's" division. It is just in the last decade that some high school forensic tournaments in South Dakota have abolished this practice of segregation and have combined the two divisions into a single all-encompassing division. The original rationale for such a practice of separation is not immediately evident. Apparently, the tournament directors believed that one sex had an inherent advantage over the other in equal competition. One event that had not yet been initiated during this period of segregation was the type of debate known as Lincoln-Douglas or single-person debate. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of the participant's gender, as well as the judge's gender, on the success of the participants at several debate tournaments in Eastern South Dakota. This research identified several variables related to the impact of gender on judge's decisions and contestant ratings in Lincoln-Douglas debate. There have been only three studies concerning the effect of gender in academic debate published in communication journals, and in all three studies the common notion of "male superiority" in debate has been discussed. The results of the three studies have concluded that empirical study does not bear out this commonly held notion. Having participated as a judge at Lincoln-Douglas debate tournaments, this researcher has witnessed the existence of the belief of "male superiority" in Lincoln Douglas debate. Therefore, this research attempted to establish whether the previous research dealing with two person debate is applicable with single-person or Lincoln Douglas debate teams and whether the commonly held belief of "male superiority" would be verified by statistical analysis.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Debates and debating
Debates and debating -- Judging
Debates and debating -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State