Solution Proposal As

Creating Gender Equality in Coaching

Society today has made great strides in women’s rights and equality. However, in the sport and coaching world, there are still many gender inequalities and differences that have not been resolved. In the past 25 years, the number of women in head coaching roles has declined dramatically. This has been caused by the overlook of women’s power in the sport world, gender stereotyping and unequal opportunities for women to secure a coaching position. Not having women in the coaching world is overlooked but is actually a bigger issue than people may think. Over 50% of women’s collegiate teams are coached by males, which is not including the number of male coaches that coach the male teams (Acoasta). This is unfair to women as they have every right and power to be able to successfully coach women's collegiate sports.

Women are not being given equal opportunities that men are in the coaching world and are looked upon as inadequate and less powerful than men. In the year 1972 Title IX was enacted and women were given equal opportunity to participate in collegiate athletics (Acoasta). That year women coached 90% of women’s collegiate teams and it seemed as though women in coaching were also given the equality that their athletes had finally received. A mere 30 years later in 2006, only 42% of the women's collegiate teams were coached by women (Acoasta). This problem is not only a highlight of the gender inequalities that our society faces but is also a problem for young girls who are looking for a mentor in their athletic careers.

Because men coach so many women’s athletic teams, it has been portrayed that women are not good enough for the job. A study conducted interviewing 122 former collegiate women coaches found that two of the top answers for the question "List the three biggest challenges faces as a coach." included gender issues and conflicts with others in sports, which had correlation to gender issues (Kamphoff). In one of these interviews a former division I head volleyball coach stated under "conflict with others in sport" classified as "lack of administration support" said a problem she faced was, “Not being allowed to coach how I wanted. Unfairness that females had to be coached different. Disagreement with AD that females were fragile. Too much interference of AD." (Kamphoff). The issue of gender discrimination among institutions with a different gender Athletic Director was addressed by a study done by Acosta and Carpenter. Their findings show that only 20.3% of all administration positions at NCAA institutions are held by females (Acoasta). It was also found that while the female voice through administration may be increasing, it is not increasing by as much as it should with research showing that there is on average 1.4 female administration per institution (Acoasta). Taking what is shown through administration, it was found that only 44.4% of head coaches were female when there was a male AD in charge, whereas with a female AD 53.5% of head coaches were female (Acoasta). These statistics help back up the theory that gender does in fact play a role when deciding who is best fit for the job.

Not only did gender issues get brought up with the other aspects of the interview, but a whole section of the interview process was focused on gender issues that women had previously had experience with. One interviewee talked about the issue of discrimination stating, “As an aging woman coach not given the respect of an older “saged” male coach.” (Kamphoff). This describes the issue of worth between women vs men coaches. It is often seen that an old wise Men’s coach knows everything there is to know about a sport, that the more experience a coach previously had, the better coach he is. This statement proves that women are not seen in the same light. As a woman ages and has more experience she is not seen as a better coach, but more or less someone who’s time has come to an end, and someone who is not as worthy of holding a coaching job. In fact, the NCAA and USOC hold annual conferences to deal with problems such as this. These conferences are held to empower female coaches and to teach them how to handle the adversity that is thrown at them in the sports world. It is important that women are given the opportunity to coach teams of their own gender. It is not pertinent that women are looked upon to coach men at this time. The focus should be on women being able to coach and empower young women so that some day they can return the favor and pass down athletics to the next generation of strong females.
This is not only an overall societal problem addressing the gender inequalities that are still present today, but this is a problem for the youth of society. These inequalities hinder a female athlete’s ability to successfully have a female mentor in a coaching position. In 2012, there were 9,274 women’s collegiate athletic teams, which was the highest number of participation yet (Acoasta). However, only 1 in 5 of these teams were coached by a woman (Acosta). In collegiate athletics it is extremely important for a female to have a strong female role model to show strength and leadership. Everhart and Chelldurani found that female athletes who had strong female coaches were more inclined to be more interested and more likely to pursue coaching than those who had male coaches (Kilty). This shows that it is important for female athletes to have a female coach as a role model in order to create future coaches and to abolish the uneven rates of male and female coaches.

One factor that athletic directors or administration may take into consideration is the coaching preference of the athletes themselves. Most people may believe that males prefer to be coached by males and females prefer to be coached by females. This common belief is not true, in fact a study done looking strictly at coaching preferences of athletes found that there was no overall difference in preference when it came to the sex of a coach (Terry). While looking at what preferences interscholastic athletes preferred in a coach it was show that these athletes preferred “coaches who engage in supportive and instructional behaviors, as opposed to non-responses or negative responses.” (Kravig). This characteristic could be found in any coach, regardless of the gender. It is important that future generations take the time to acknowledge this view and remember the value that both male and female coaches possess. Coaches are there to support, encourage and motivate their teams and both genders are equally adequate to fulfill that role.

Perhaps the issue of the declining number of women coaching collegiate athletics has nothing to do with gender inequalities. Perhaps the gender stereotype that women belong at home taking care of the family is indeed what is at hand. At one of the conferences held by the NCAA and USOC for women coaches, this very topic was discussed. It was discussed that at a certain point in a woman’s coaching career she must make a very tough decision- be at home with the family (if she has chose to have one) or be at work with the team (Kilty). This very demanding career is not an easy one to balance while having a family at home. It was discussed that many women opt for the assistant coaching positions, or opt to forfeit their careers all together, or at least until their child baring years are over (Kilty). The issue of work and family being separate domains was brought up. Family being a woman’s traditional domain and work being the man’s makes it hard for a woman to completely commit to a career that may not allow her to be the sole caretaker of a family and if one does decide to take on the task of both, risks the chance of burnout (Kilty).
Burnout is another factor affecting the coaching abilities of women. “Burnout” is defined as, as the state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause or way of life (Pastore). In a study, it was shown that women are more likely to show higher prevalence of burnout in a coaching position. It was suggested that because of the challenges women face, such as being looked upon as inadequate, or needing to prove the worth of women in the sport world, that those factors could have a direct impact on the prevalence of burnout within women coaching. Needing to constantly prove that women belong in the sport and coaching world would be exhausting and more than likely would lead to burnout. Another factor found was that women are more likely to have more responsibilities at home. This suggestion can be deemed true when looking at the traditional gender roles, women are generally seen as being the primary care giver in a home and with the stress of coaching and taking care of a family, that can cause be a cause of burnout.

Burnout may be another cause linked to the declining numbers of women coaching in a collegiate setting, but is not the main concern. The main concern for this issue is still focused on the gender inequalities and the lack of faith in women in a coaching role. One strategy that may be useful in solving this problem could simply be equal interviewing opportunities. Granted that there are enough women interested in these coaching positions, it would be helpful to create a universal guideline for all institutions. This guideline could take a few different forms. The first option could be creating a way to have the same number of female interviewees as male. This could be tricky because the chances of getting the same number of interested applicants in each gender is less than likely. However, if a position were to open up for example for a women’s soccer head coaching position and you had 56 applicants, 24 of which are female, and 32 are male, the guideline may say, for every two male interviewees you must also interview a female. This makes the ratio of male to female interviews 1:2. This still is not equal, but looking at the number of applicants, in order to give all the applicants a fair shot, there must be more males interviewed than females. This will help with the over looking of female applicants, they will get a fair interview and be able to show case themselves for the position when otherwise they might get looked over.

Another solution that may have a positive effect on the issue at hand could be a guideline created for the number of female coaches including both assistant and head coaching positions. This guideline could make it mandatory to have a certain number of female coaches employed at any one certain institution. This number will not be a universal number but it would be created based off of the number of athletic teams, athletes and the different sports. For example, if a school has a track or swimming team, those are teams that are more likely to be coached by either gender and therefore that school would have a higher number of mandatory female coaches than a school without those teams would have. This solution would involve lots of discussions based on what sports are offered at certain schools. The point to this solution would be to increase the number of female coaches that are coaching women's teams. This solution would help to raise the percentage from 42% to hopefully above 60% of women's teams coached by women (LaVoi).

Women are gaining equality slowly but surely in most aspects of the modern world. It is pertinent that women gain equality in the sport and coaching world as well. Without equality women will always be subject to other discriminations and the full potential for a woman coach will never be realized or accomplished. With the solutions proposed above, the future of gender equality is more likely to be accomplished. These solutions are realistic ways to enhance the chances of women finding their place in the coaching world. The end goal is to allow women every opportunity to coach teams of the female gender- and ultimately the male gender as well, but alas, Rome was not built in a day.

Works Cited:

Acoasta, Vivian, and Jean Carpenter. Women in Intercollegiate Sport: A Longitudinal Study. Twenty Five Year Update, 1977-2002. University of New York, 2002. Web. Feb. 2015.
Terry, P.C., and B.L. Howe. Coaching Preferences of Athletes. University of Victoria, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. file:///Users/ansiv/Downloads/Terry&Howe1984.pdf

Kamphoff, Cindra, PhD. Bargaining with Patriarchy: Former Women Coaches' Experiences and Their Decision to Leave Collegiate Coaching. Diss. U of North Carolina, 2006. N.p.: UMI Dissertations, 2006. Print.

Kilty, Katie. "Women in Coaching." Human Kinetics (2006): n. pag. Endicott College, 6 Mar. 2006. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.

Kravig, Seth Dayton, B.S. COACHING BEHAVIOR PREFERENCES OF INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETES. University of North Texas, May 2003. Web. Apr. 2015.

LaVoi, Nicole M., Ph.D. "Head Coaches of Women's Collegiate Teams." (2015): n. pag. University of Minnesota. Tucker Center for Research on Girl's and Women in Sport, Jan. 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

Pastore, Donna L., and Michael R. Judd. "Gender Differences in Burnout Among Coaches of Women's Athletic Teams at 2-Year Colleges." Sociology of Sport Journal 10 (1993): 205-12. Google Scholar. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

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