Thank you, Michelle Obama: In support of women and girls




Watch Michelle Obama’s wonderful speech – it is time to stand up for women and girls.



All-Women’s Colleges

Photo courtesy of Simmons Undergraduate College

I’m taking a course in Higher Education and on this week’s discussion board, we were asked to devise a plan to recruit and retain students. One of my classmate’s ideas was to start accepting men at an all-women’s college. She argued that it would create a larger student body, thus attracting more students, which I agree with in theory, but I am not a proponent of this change. While I did not attend an all-women’s college, I now coach at one and have been “selling” the environment in which I believe to recruits.


Bryn Mawr is known for its rigorous academic environment, empowering women to become strong and intelligent individuals. Bryn Mawr is one of the Seven Sister schools and shares a rich history and many traditions that are followed to the tea (some which date back to 1885)! The women at Bryn Mawr are smart, mature, caring, and engaging. In fact, I asked one of them to write me a blurb about why she chose Bryn Mawr…


“For me, one of the biggest benefits is the atmosphere. Placing yourself with other people who want to see you succeed not only as a student but as a woman is empowering. The mindset of the college is one of support and respect of women. The role models you have are strong, confident women who are paving the way for you to succeed. This is something that I feel is unique to a women’s college and a huge benefit to my education and growth as a person.”


I would hate to see the traditions, sense of community, and ability to feel empowered vanish.

The Real Women of Coaching – Episode #9 – Traci Green (Final Episode of Season I)

This is the 9th and final episode in Season #1 of The Real Women of Coaching video series.  We finish up our conversation with Traci Green, Head Women’s Tennis Coach at Harvard University.


Take a look and please pass this along via Facebook and Twitter!  The more traffic we get, the more videos we will produce in the future!!!!


The Real Women of Coaching – Episode #8 – Traci Green


This is the 8th episode in Season #1 of The Real Women of Coaching video series.  We continue our conversation with Traci Green, Head Women’s Tennis Coach at Harvard University.


In her second episode of The Real Women of Coaching, Traci shares why she likes the job and what she does to encourage others to consider coaching as a career.


Take a look and please pass this along via Facebook and Twitter!

The Real Women of Coaching – Episode #5 – Linda Muri

The 5th episode in Season #1 of The Real Women of Coaching video series.  Linda Muri of Harvard University Lightweight Men’s Crew, discusses coaching men – an anomaly itself – a woman coaching a men’s elite program.

Check it out!


Please do your part and share this with other coaches and female athletes!


What Women Leaders are Better at Than Men

I will never forget the pin I bought when I was in fourth grade at a fair by my house. It was light blue with big black lettering and read: “Anything Boys Can Do, Girls Can Do Better.”  I couldn’t get the 50 cents out of my pocket quick enough to buy the pin that I swore was made just for me and I proudly stuck it front and center on my denim-washed jean jacket so that everyone would be able to read it and know that I was one of those girls who wasn’t going to be intimidated by boys.  I’ve kept that pin over the years to remind myself that I – a women – can do anything a man can do…and do it better!

Of course today I don’t truly believe that we as women do everything better than men, but I do believe in that spirited mentality a young girl who knew her unique worth as a female. We as women are different in ways that make us better at some things than others and it’s important we take the time to recognize and celebrate these differences that make us better – especially when it comes to leadership and coaching. Far too often I hear women mention the things that actually make us better leaders as weakness or limitations.  We don’t always fully appreciate what we as women can bring to the table, and instead of celebrating and exploiting these differences, we downplay or ignore them.

I recently came across a post by Dan Rockwell, a.k.a The Leadership Freak (, that focused on “Where Women Leaders are Better than Men”.   The post was an interesting compilation of input to a question he threw out there to his Facebook followers.  The Leadership Freak asked the “Freaks” (as he calls them) that follow his Facebook page, “What are women leaders better at than men?

Incidentally, over the past couple months, I have been asking myself that very same question.  As I watched NCAA Tournament for both women’s and men’s basketball this past winter, I found myself paying less attention to the actual game and more attention to the coaches and their ability to lead – especially when the going got tough!  At times, there were noticeable and distinct differences at how the women coaches responded to certain situations (before, during, in-between and after games) when compared to the men.  It’s not to say one way was right and one was wrong, or one way was successful and another unsuccessful, just that while they were alike in some aspects, they were also noticeably different in others.  Maybe it was that little fourth grader inside of me who thought she could do anything better than the boys, but I started to think about women and their innate differences and what makes them great leaders which in turn lead me to think about what qualities women possess that make them better leaders than men (and vice versa).   I reflected back to myself as a young girl so confident that what made her a girl made her better.  I thought to myself, now all these years later as a woman have I continued to fully embrace my innate differences that make me a strong leader?

I think it’s important to note here that in doing this comparison I by no means am trying to stereotype one gender or another, I’m just simply attempting to point out the unique and valuable differences that women possess which make them fantastic leaders and in turn successful coaches.   The Leadership Freak hinted to this notion well in his post by saying: “Generalities and stereotypes that lock people in restrictive boxes belittle everyone. On the other hand, celebrating difference honors individuals and enhances organizations.”  Well said.

So what exactly did those Facebook followers come up with in response to his question?  Below is a list of answers:

  1. Knowing when there is no value in fighting.
  2. Understanding when someone just has a crummy day.
  3. Understanding the pressures that other women leaders face.
  4. Organization and multitasking.
  5. Compassion.
  6. *Empathy.
  7. Tenderness.
  8. Building consensus, supporting staff, sharing credit, and leading from the middle.
  9. Networking.
  10. Emotional Intelligence.
  11. *Listening
  12. *Smiling through the pain.
  13. Focusing on details.
  14. Mission focus and *tolerance.
  15. Transparency.
  16. Simplicity.
  17. Valuing people for who they are not just what they do.
  18. Building relationships that last.
  19. Creating an environment where mistakes are not just tolerated but seen as essential to growth.

Note: Items are listed in the order they were posted on Facebook. An asterisk indicates that item was mentioned more than once.

The Leadership Freak used spot #20 on the list in his post to ask his readers: “What can you add, amplify, or illustrate?”  I’d like to ask the same of all the Women in Coaching readers… use the comments section below to add to the list and share your thoughts with us!



Since I like to end each of my posts with a quote, I can’t help but share the slogan I saw on the t-shirt of a young lacrosse player recently during my recruiting travels.  She reminded me of myself at that age with my treasured blue pin I bought at the fair.  Her t-shirt read “Some girls chase boys, I pass them”.  Something tells me that young girl will grow up to be a successful woman leader.


Jennifer Valore, Assistant Women’s Lacrosse Coach, University of Michigan, Follow me on Twitter: jvalore

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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