Female and Male Athletes’ Perception of Coaching Careers

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Female and Male Athletes’ Perception of Coaching Careers

Gender equity in the coaching profession has yet to be achieved. This is despite federal legalization enacted over 35 years ago. After decades of discrimination against women in educational arenas, Congress enacted Title IX in 1972, which declares that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”. The enactment of Title IX has prompted significant advancements in the opportunities available to female athletes. Within four years of its implementation, the number of female athletes in the United States increased by 600 percent, to include over two million participants (Shook, 1996). Universities worked to meet the increasing needs of female athletes by expanding women’s athletic programs and offering a diverse range of sports. Title IX mandated that more money be spent on women's programs and paid coaching and administrative positions in collegiate athletics. This legislation opened the door of opportunity in sports to women; however, this opportunity also became lucrative and attractive to men. Despite increased numbers of women participating in sport, this has not translated into more female coaches in intercollegiate athletics. According to NCAA Member Institutions’ Personnel Report in years 2008-09 men dominated head coaching and assistant coaching position in Division I athletics. Women comprise only 23.3% of all head coaching positions and only 35.5% of all assistant coaching positions. Moreover, according to Acosta and Carpenter (2002), between 2000-2002, 90 % of all head coaching jobs in women’s athletics (326 out of 361) went to men. This fact has been well documented beyond Acosta and Carpenter’s widely cited work (see Pastore 1992 for a discussion). Research also suggests that females intend to leave the coaching profession sooner than their male counterparts. Knoppers et al. (1991) found that only 12.3% of female coaches, compared to 50.3% of male coaches, planned to stay in the coaching profession until they were 65. Similarly, Sagas, Cunningham & Ashley (2000) found that 68% of women assistant coaches, compared to 15% male assistant coaches, anticipated leaving the coaching profession by the time they turned 45. Today, it is important to understand why women are not in the professions of coaching and athletic administration in the numbers we would like to see and what the perceived barriers for entering coaching professions are.

Current Knowledge of Under-Representation of Female Coaches In recent years, interest in the coach’s role and the reasons why people do, or do not, choose coaching as a career has been growing steadily (Gilbert, 2002). Interest in coaching as a career for women parallels the increasing rise in the number of girls involved in sports. This increased participation has in turn generated greater demand for people to coach girls. Based on this demand and the ongoing under-representation of women in the coaching ranks, some researchers have launched projects aimed at understanding and explaining the processes involved in recruiting, retaining, and losing women coaches. Most of the studies concern high performance coaches who have been active for a number of years (Acosta and Carpenter, 2002) and unearth the factors working against or contributing to the involvement of women as coaches and the main reasons why they drop out.

Choosing coaching as a career
Findings from Hart et als’ (1986) study on entry and exit aspects of the job cycle, and Pastore’s research (1991 & 1992), suggest that women enter coaching and athletic management positions to extend involvement in competition, work with advanced and skilled athletes and serve as role models. Moreover, “to help other females reach their potential” was...
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