Senior Honors Thesis Presentation: "What If She's Not That Fast: Investigating Caster Semenya's Impact on Forecasting Models"

Speaker: Aliya Schenck, Washington University in Saint Louis

Abstract: In 2009, Caster Semenya won the women’s 800 meter run at the IAAF World Championships. Since then, Semenya has been the focal point of nearly a decade of gender regulation policies and testing. Semenya’s status as an intersex woman has called the gender binary of sports into question – efforts were made to force Semenya onto hormones or be barred from competing as a woman entirely, for fear of her hormonal makeup providing an unfair advantage in competition. The goal of this project was to see whether Semenya’s inclusion in the women’s 800 meter had a statistically significant impact on forecasting models. Through a time series analysis, we found a 0.07 second difference between the forecasted values of time series with and without Semenya. This value is not a significant time difference in middle-distance track and field. Our investigation thus provides a key piece of quantitative evidence in the larger conversation of inclusion and fairness in sport.  

Host: Abigail Jager