Home » MomsTeam | Team Moms/Coaches Channel » Women Coaches and Administrators: Reversing The Decline in Numbers

Women Coaches and Administrators: Reversing The Decline in Numbers

Strategies To Get More Women Into Coaching

1. The Sex Segregated Sport System Needs A Sex Integrated Workforce. One of the lasting legacies of thinking about sport in sex-segregated terms is that it has artificially created a work environment where men are thought to be better suited for coaching and administrative careers. In point of fact, both coaching and athletic administration are non-gendered professions. If men can coach women and run athletic programs for both females and males, there is simply nothing that ought to be a barrier to women doing the same thing. School sport systems overall would benefit immensely by having a more inclusionary and diverse workforce.

2. Changing the Sport Culture At The Grassroots Level. One of the most powerful tools that could be employed in changing the way that coaching and athletic administration is perceived would be for more mothers to be coaching at the youth sport level. Just as fathers over the years have taken responsibility for their sons and daughters teams, mothers can be encouraged to do the same. The integration of coaching ranks at this level would plant a seed early in the minds of both girls and boys that women can coach, thus affecting their vision of how sport systems operate. Coaching competence and style would be associated with both women and men, not primarily with men.

3. Changing the Applicant Pool for Coaching & Administrative Positions in Schools. There has been much talk in recent years about the possibility of University of Tennessee women's basketball coach, Pat Summit, the owner of a .837 winning percentage and seven NCAA championships titles, taking over the men's program. Ms. Summit has declined invitations by campus administrators to take the job, electing instead to remain with the women's program. Whereas this is surely the right decision for Ms. Summit, more women need to begin to conceptualize the coaching profession as a sex-integrated profession rather than sex-segregated one. By doing so, they will gain access to more lucrative positions, will alter the assumptions used by administrators when they recruit coaches, and will alter the coaching environment overall.

4. Reform of the Coaching Profession As one recent study has documented, the coaching profession is among the most excessive in hours worked and the least accommodating in policies that would help balance work and family life. Reform in coaching would not only make the profession potentially more attractive to women, it would also be more hospitable to the men working in the field as well.

5. Continued Development of Recruitment Programs Targeting Female Athletes In recent years, several organizations have launched initiatives and programs to encourage female athletes to consider careers in coaching and to provide support for women aspiring to go into coaching and administration. Those programs include:

  • The Race and Gender Report Card. An industry report card developed by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics at the University of Central Florida under the direction of Dr. Richard Lapchick. This annual report card provides valuable information regarding the status of women and minorities in the sport workplace.
  • The Coaching and Gender Equity Project (CAGE). This project released a report on women in the coaching profession in August of 2005 with helpful information on how to recruit and retain women coaches. For more information click here.

Ellen Staurowsky is currently a Professor of Sport Management in the Center for Hospitality and Sports Management at Drexel University. At the time this article was originally published, Dr. Staurowsky was Graduate Program Chair in the Department of Sport Management & Media at Ithaca College.

The article has been updated to reflect new statistics on the percentage of women as coaches and athletic directors at the college level as reported by Acosta/Carpenter in their unpublished manuscript, "Women in Intercollegiate Sport. A Longitudinal, National Study, Thirty-Five Year Update. 1977-2012", which is available for download at www.acostacarpenter.org.

Updated June 2, 2015 


NOW Available in KINDLE