Economic Impact & Female Coaches

Coaching at the elite college level can be a lucrative career.

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!

Downloadable Poster on Economic Inequality & Female Coaches (LaVoi, 2013)


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!



It’s not just us coaches…

Photo courtesy of The New York Times

As I read through my daily headlines this afternoon, I came across an article entitled “Sharing the Pain of Women in Medicine” and was inspired to write about it today. The author describes her doctor friend who “got tired of being a woman in medicine.” She, more often than her male counterparts, was asked to work on more holidays, sit in on administrative meetings, and other things that kept her away from advancing in her career. When she raised these concerns to her chairman, “he listened – but never responded to her repeated requests for a raise or more support.”


This sounds awfully familiar…I wrote about similar events in “The Women’s Side of the Glass Wall.”


In 2000, a survey put out by Annals of Internal Medicine found that gender bias was widespread among medical institutions. “More than half of the women professors surveyed reported being discriminated against or sexually harassed,” women faculty made less money, were promoted more slowly, and fared worse in peer-review. A more recent  study that focused on the emotional well-being of its survey takers showed that men were just as likely as women to feel ignored, discriminated against, and unsupported by their institution. As a result of these findings, some institutions have begun to offer mentoring programs aimed to develop leadership skills and to create a collaborative environment of trust. “While it remains to be seen whether these changes will endure, it has become clearer that men, as well as women, stand to benefit from any improvement.” Here’s to hoping!


Work Cited

Chen, P. (2012, November 29). Sharing the Pain of Women in Medicine. The New York Times. Retrieved from


Women in Sport Leadership Lecture

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.

You can view the entire lecture for free online.

Female Leadership Development in Higher Education

Photo Courtesy of, blog of Tabby Biddle

In my Foundations in Higher Education class this week, we were asked to choose an article to critique and summarize. I chose a piece from Educational Management Administration & Leadership in which an online survey was conducted of twenty-six women among eight New Zealand universities in an effort to answer “What helps or hinders women to advance in university leadership roles, as reported by women?” (Airini et al., 2011, p.48).


The motivation for this research question is that “gender imbalance among senior university academics is an acknowledged problem in many countries, [and] women represent only 16.9 percent of professors and associate professors in New Zealand.” Moreover, even when women do assume roles of leadership, they are put in a more precarious situation than men, and are more likely to be under close scrutiny. Just as there have been more female athletes since Title IX but fewer female coaches, “female student enrollment figures are increasing…but this is not reflected yet in a proportionate rise in female senior academics” (Airini et al., 2011, p.44-45).


Three main types of factors help or hinder the development of an academic woman’s leadership potential: 1) personal, 2) professional, and 3) organizational factors. In regards to personal factors, “women may consider responsibilities, such as raising a family, and their physical and mental health to take priority over climbing the corporate ladder,” or on the other hand, they may sacrifice this lifestyle and forgo having children in order to succeed in their career. From a professional perspective, women have a perceived notion to be tougher and to have competence in selling themselves. Lastly, universities have shifted “away from the modernist university,” one of intellectual traditions, academic freedom, and backed by government investment, to a “corporate post-modern university,” one of strategic focus, client service, and lower levels of government funding (Airini et al., 2011, p.46). If this is the case, then one can’t help but compare the gender of current CEOs and executives of corporations to senior academics at universities and wonder if the latter will follow the same trend as the former in hiring mostly males.


Surprisingly, the results of the online survey revealed that women experience more “helpful” incidents than “non-helpful” (Airini et al., 2011, p.49). Therefore, even though facts may show that fewer women assume leadership roles in academia, it may not be because they are being hindered by external factors. Surveyed women discussed positive working relationships they have with those more senior (which led to bigger projects, increased confidence, and greater recognition); opportunities to attend conferences for professional development; and a family connection that actually produced a new client. Perhaps the most interesting positive finding was that one woman did not take on a managerial role since it would take time away from her research (which could also explain why fewer women are seen in those positions).


However, there were some findings that explain possible hindrance to women advancing in academia, including negative working relationships that involved intimidation and challenges to integrity; poor attitudes towards having children and taking maternity leave; stress, illness, bereavement, and low self-esteem. In these circumstances, advancement could be hindered due to restrictions on hours available to work or travel.


The issue of gender imbalance is important to higher education because often when a structure or organization changes, so do its people. As discussed above, if universities are becoming increasingly more like corporations, then the leaders of universities might be more like Chief Executive Officers. The article states that “recently, there has been an increase in emphasis on vision-building, strategic planning, financial management, accountability, and building leadership teams.” This statement exudes the same message as that of a mission statement of a Fortune 100 company. The question is, therefore, are women having a harder time adapting to this “corporate post-modern university” model, or does the new model require a different type of leader that academics – both men and women – aren’t yet prepared for?


Work Cited

Airini, Collings, S., Conner, L., McPherson, K., Midson, B., & Wilson, C. (2011). Learning to be leaders in higher education: What helps or hinders women’s advancement as leaders in universities. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 39(1), 44-62.

The Women’s Side of the Glass Wall

In “The Glass Wall,” espnW and ESPN The Magazine writers Kate Fagan and Luke Cyphers discuss “a phenomenon researchers call ‘The Glass Wall.’ Women can see the thousands of jobs on the other side [men’s teams]. They just can’t get to them.”

The story opens with an image of Jody Runge – once a top women’s basketball coach at the University of Oregon – now the proprietor of a bed & breakfast.

“She won two Pac-10 titles and 70 percent of her games. She also fought for equality, demanding better practice times, fair distribution of gear, respect for her players and pay commensurate with that of her peers. She rocked the boat. And for her trouble, she says the administration tipped her overboard.”

With these credentials, one would think she’d be hired again in a heartbeat. Yet unlike her male counterparts who have job-hopped from various coaching positions, she was not able to find another position. Why?

“She repeatedly went to the administration with equality issues.”

“She demanded a share of the “prime” practice slot, 3 to 6 p.m.

“She refused to look the other way when the marketing department plastered Mac Court with life-size photos of men’s team members, but none of her squad.”

Aware of the risks she was taking, Runge sought advice of other highly successful female basketball coaches. Did they think she was doing the right thing? Were they prepared to stand behind her? NO. “They encouraged her to stand down.” They didn’t think that those battles were worth fighting, and the unfortunate reality is that they’re not.

The one sentence in this article that really baffles me is: “Many women, quite frankly, haven’t helped each other out.” How are things going to change if women don’t work together? As I think about my support system and the coaches and mentors I have met, at least three of them have all said that I should work at a school where the athletic director is female. However, this article shows that only 20% of athletic directors across all three divisions are women!

When Title IX was passed in 1972, “women coached more than 90 percent of women’s teams. By 1978, that number had already dipped to 58.2 percent. This year, it’s down to 42.9 percent, according to the most recent survey by Brooklyn College professors emerita R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter.”

Nicole LaVoi, associate director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports [and one of our blog writers!], has conducted “research that shows that if young female athletes don’t see women in positions of power – as either head coaches or top administrators – they will be less likely to consider a similar career path.” Absolutely! But the statistics given above show a vicious cycle: if there are fewer women pursuing careers as head coaches and A.D.s, what will younger generations look up to? Furthermore, what if the advice we get is to take the safe road? How will we ever break this gender barrier? Our side of the glass wall needs more strength and power – through collaboration – before it can break through to the other side.

Work Cited

Fagan, K. & Cyphers, L. (2012). The Glass Wall: Women continue to shatter stereotypes as athletes. So how come they can’t catch a break as coaches? espnW and ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved from

Explaining the Scarcity of Female Coaches: Barriers Part 2

Today I will discuss two additional barriers identified in the literature faced and navigated by many female coaches. (for Part 1 click here)

1. Lack of perceived competence. Despite possessing a great deal of professional, athletic and social capital, many women feel they lack athletic or coaching experience, knowledge, and sports or management skills and therefore do not enter coaching. This is true at all levels of competition. In one research study we talked to women who had played D-I soccer and had kids in soccer, why they did not coach their child(ren) in youth soccer. Many felt they were not competent enough or lacked the qualifications to coach! When probed about the qualifications of their child’s current coach, many would laugh and say s/he (mostly “he” however, as less than 20% of youth sport coaches are female) had no clue what they were doing! One woman said it best, “Well most men haven’t played soccer but they read a book and feel qualified!” The lack of perceived competence also stems from societal stereotypes that many women internalize.  In many studies researchers cite  in general people believe that male leaders in any context are more competent than females, and sport coaching is no exception. Therefore, to be a qualified coach, means to be a male or adopt leadership behaviors associated with male coaches and/or masculinity.

STRATEGY: Ask women to coach or to apply for coaching jobs...and that means jobs for coaching boys and men too! Point out to women they indeed DO possess a lot of coaching knowledge. In conversations I’ve had with women, I list the many bodies of knowledge and expertise they have (e.g., parenting, work, community organizing) and how those skills  can be applied to coaching. In nearly all cases they tell me they had never thought of it that way and started to think about coaching as a possibility. In fact after such a conversation, one of my college teammates (tennis) who had been a teaching pro for 5yrs right out of college, immediately started giving tennis lessons to her daughters and other kids in her community. At the college level, we also need to advise, encourage and teach young women to apply to jobs to coaching men.


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Barriers to entry for Women & Girls in sport: Part I

Girls playing soccer in South Africa

Worldwide, girls and women are less likely than boys and men to participate in sport, and the sport arena is largely dominated by males. One should not assume, however, that this is because girls and women do not want to take part. Lack of resources, inadequate facilities, poverty, domestic demands, safety concerns, low self-esteem, disability, lack of transportation and few opportunities for physical education and skills development frequently prevent women’s participation in physical activity and sport. As well, socio-cultural norms and constraints preventing girls and women from being physically active, leaving home unaccompanied, or being seen by men outside their family, are additional barriers preventing girls and women from becoming involved in sport and physical activity (

These are only some of the issues contributing to the imbalance in female/male representation not only in sports

participation and professional sports careers, but also in jobs such as sports marketing, sports management and administration, sports physiotherapy, sports psychology, sport for development NGOs, community sports organizations and sports clubs. These issues should be addressed so that women and girls will be encouraged to take part in physical activity; the community as a whole must be fully informed and educated about the opportunities, advantages and risks associated with female participation in sport.

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