This is a great article about the cost of NOT hiring women coaches. Great thoughts in this one!
The Women’s Sports Foundation is looking to hear from you! They would like stories about the following:
- The product of an impactful or meaningful female coach?
- A coach who was treated unfairly in your college or university athletic department?
- A coach who was wrongfully terminated by your college or university athletic department?
- A female coach who wants to speak out about the importance of females coaching females?
Go to the above link to find out how to share your story.
Last week Dr. Amy Giddings (the founder of this blog and one of my professors of Sport Management at Drexel) and I filled in for another professor in the department and it was a great experience! The undergraduate class was in Leadership and the week’s discussion was on gender issues. Dr. Giddings taught the first section while I taught the second, so we both discussed this blog! As part of the lecture, we asked the students for some feedback on our website, and one piece of advice that really stood out to me was: you guys are doing a great job at inspiring women to become coaches…but what about telling them how to become coaches? Well, here is how I did it, and you can, too!
1) Follow your passion. I was a math major in college and then went on to work at various consulting firms, crunching numbers in Excel at all hours of the day and putting together PowerPoint presentations. While this path followed my skills, it certainly wasn’t the road to my passion for running, being outside, and engaging with and helping others. Coaching, on the other hand, certainly fulfills these desires.
2) Update your resume. By the time I was 27 (which was the time I started looking for a coaching job), my resume was full of phrases like “Trusted advisor on employer health and welfare programs” and “Assisted biotech and pharmaceutical companies in defining, creating, and executing commercial development strategies.” These have nothing to do with coaching cross country or track, right? So I revamped my resume to bring in as much as I could about my experience as a runner, running camp counselor, team captain, student athletic trainer…anything I could to show my experience and potential skills to become a coach.
3) Contact potential employers and be enthusiastic! I e-mailed approximately 80 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area, high schools, and neighborhood track clubs asking for assistant coaching positions, paid or volunteer! I heard back from many head coaches who, even though they didn’t have a need for a coach at the time, were impressed with my passion and enthusiasm and said they would hold onto my resume (and I have actually received e-mails from them throughout the past couple of years asking if I am still available)! I was lucky enough to hear a response from Bryn Mawr College and have been working there as the Cross Country and Track & Field assistant ever since. It has been an unbelievably great fit for me, and while I was hired due to the timing of the team’s needs (the new head coach was looking for a new assistant), I also know that my background in the sport and passion for wanting to become a coach had something to do with it as well
4) Create a network. Join every LinkedIn group you can that has something to do with your sport, the coaches and administrators in it, and the skills behind it. “Like” the same organizations on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Go to clinics and conventions and meet people (I even had my own business cards made up for this purpose). E-mail these contacts every few months, even if just to say hello.
Good luck! Hopefully you will realize that nowhere in this post did I mention becoming certified or going to school before becoming a coach. While I have done both since becoming a coach (I am USATF Level I certified and finishing my master’s in Sport Management at Drexel), I did not have these qualifications when I first started looking for a job. I am a firm believer, therefore, that if you follow your passion with perseverance, your career path will become much more accessible and opportunities will evolve that you never before imagined.
However, coaching is more lucrative for some groups than others ―bigger schools, coaches of men’s teams, coaches of high profile sports, and arguably men in general.
NCAA IA head coaches ($297,412) make much more than their NCAA II ($40,303), and NCAA III counterparts ($29,201) (Equity in Athletic Data Analysis [EADA], 2011)
Based on this data, NCAA IA head coaches make considerably more than the average U.S. citizen (US Census Bureau reports the median household income in 2012 was $50,054).
NCAA Division-IA coaches of men’s teams ($462,718) (most all of whom are male) get paid on average much more than coaches of women’s teams ($132,106) (57.7% of whom are male, Acosta & Carpenter, 2012).
Additionally coaches of some sports get paid much more. For example, based on publicly available data (*minus Northwestern & Penn State), the average salary for BIG 10 head coaches of men’s football ($2.27 million) and men’s basketball ($1.91 million) are muchhigher than for women’s basketball ($365,455) and volleyball ($155,820)…not to mention other sports!
Here is the point…
College coaching is lucrative for both men and women, yet many women fail to envision coaching as a possible career pathway and face many barriers to access and maintain their coaching careers which can result in impeded and limited economic earning potential. Overall, women are under-represented in all coaching positions, and have limited access to coach men’s teams―the most lucrative positions in college sport.
One solution?: Females should apply for coaching jobs of male teams!
This fall at the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport we focused our fall Distinguished Lecture on the topic of gender and sport leadership. Specifically we invited two renown sport management scholars, Dr. Janet Fink (UMass Amherst) and Dr. Sally Shaw (U of Otago, New Zealand) to flush out why the numbers of women sport leaders is declining in the US, and why women in other countries have failed to ascend to positions of power. Their insights are compelling and thought provoking.
I recently read a blog where a woman said that she looks at her naked body in the mirror every morning and loves what she sees. She said that she does not have a particularly thin or athletic body, and that her body looks nothing like the girls’ bodies in magazines, but that she loves what her body does for her and embraces every curve, bump and blemish. When I asked a few of my girlfriends what they thought about their bodies, many of them were not incredibly happy with the way they looked and would like to change something if they could. Things are not very different in the United States: according to the American Psychological Association, 30-40% of Americans are somewhat unhappy with their appearance while another 45% may experience anxiety or depression due to dissatisfaction with their appearance.
But what or who do we compare ourselves with? Why do we have these perfect images in our minds; are we distorting reality?
We want to look like the images of models and movie stars in magazines, but these women are either part of a very small percentage of the female population who were blessed with “thin” genes; OR they are paid lots of money to look good on catwalks/in movies and therefore are able to afford dedicated personal trainers, dieticians, chefs and babysitters to ensure that they get into, or stay in shape.
This does not apply to most real women – many of us have full time jobs, families to care for, a demanding schedule and countless other priorities. Why do we then compare ourselves to images that are celebrated and endorsed by the media?
Moreover, we see that teenage girls are most at risk for comparing themselves with others. Puberty is a time when young people are particularly vulnerable to the media and often compare themselves with images of celebrities. It is also a time that they want to feel accepted by their friends and want to fit in; girls often think that looking more like the popular or pretty girls will make them feel better about themselves. This can lead to a dangerous spiral of excessive exercise and/or eating disorders.
We need to encourage women and girls to set their own realities and to stop comparing. If we want to look good we need to invest the time and energy needed – there is no quick fix or magic pill that will produce the results that we want; only our own dedication through training and eating a healthy diet. But when embarking on this journey, we need to ensure that we are setting healthy and achievable goals so as not to get discouraged if after two months we don’t have Elle Macpherson’s legs or Halle Berry’s body.
Sport and exercise is a wonderful way to be healthy, let alone the countless social and psychological benefits that comes with playing sport. Coaches should use this platform to encourage women and girls to practice self-acceptance and to embrace their bodies. Due to genetics, different body types and the demands of everyday life, all of us cannot be thin, BUT we can all be healthy. Instead of comparing ourselves to images in the media, we need to find our own standard of beauty and make that the norm. We owe it to our bodies to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, but above all:
Take pleasure in being alive and love yourself…including your body. Life is too short to obsess over immaterial external things that are fleeting and will fade away with time.