Women Leaving Coaching

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Women Leaving Coaching

Title IX is a federal law banning sex discrimination in educational activities receiving federal funding. The law’s passage in 1972 meant more opportunities for girls and women, including in school athletics.

Even though more girls and women are participating in athletics than ever before, the same is not true for women coaches. In 1972, the year Title IX was passed, 90 percent of women’s teams were coached by women. Today, that figure is just 43 percent. Thus, men are more likely to coach women’s teams than are women.

A number of researchers have focused on the low numbers of women in the coaching profession. Some suggest that as the status of women’s athletics increased, so too did the monies available. Thus, coaching women’s teams became a financially viable option for men, and as a result, many pursued that coaching path.

Researchers in the Laboratory for Diversity in Sport at Texas A&M recently examined another possibility. We focused on assistant coaches, with the idea that they were most likely to be future head coaches. We then examined their experiences in the profession and their intentions to leave coaching. Gender differences in the experiences of assistant coaches could shed light on the varying number of women and men serving as head coaches.

We integrated findings from previous studies, which resulted in an analysis of over 3700 coaches. Results showed that women plan to leave sport sooner than do men, and these differences are a function of variance in work-life balance.

The findings suggest that in an effort to improve work conditions for all employees, including women, sport managers can work to improve work-life balance. Options include flexible work times and locations, shorter hours, and integration of family into work activities, among others.