Survey: Women Still Left On The Bench When Applying For Top Coaching Jobs

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: March 31, 2007

Women, take note: When it comes to being hired for the top jobs in college sports, don't print up those business cards just yet.

A study by researchers in the Center for Sport Management at Texas A&M University shows that women have a good chance at being hired as an assistant coach, but their chances of being hired as a head coach are not nearly as promising.

Results of the project by researchers Mike Sagas, George Cunningham and Ken Teed have been published in the academic journal Sex Roles.

Sagas says the researchers collected data on more than 3,200 NCAA teams in Divisions I, II and III sports, primarily concentrating on basketball, softball, volleyball and soccer - the four most popular team sports in which women participate.

Figures show that about 60 percent of those sports have one or more women as assistant coaches, but around 50 percent of the head coaches in those sports are women. In some sports, such as soccer, only 33 percent of the coaches are women.

In women's basketball, women make up about 67 percent of the assistant coaching jobs, but only 62 percent are head coaches.

Despite three decades of Title IX implementation - the landmark ruling that said women should have equal representation in sports - women are still having trouble finding top jobs in the athletic workplace, Sagas believes.

One clue might be noteworthy to look at, he says: Nationwide, about 83 percent of all athletic directors - those most likely to do the hiring - are men.

"The data clearly shows that there is still a 'good old boy' network out there, a mindset in which men would still rather hire other men as head coaches," Sagas explains.

"Currently, 'the good old girl' network for women is less prevalent at the highest levels of athletic administration. So when it comes to being hired for the head job, men are more often hired."

The news is brighter for women who are seeking jobs as assistant coaches, Sagas notes.

Of the teams surveyed, the ratio of women to men as assistant coaches was high, with about 62 percent of assistants being female. Those figures remain constant even when men are the head coaches.

"When it comes to hiring assistant coaches in these sports, men would rather hire women, and that's also true for women head coaches - they would also rather hire women to be assistants on their staffs," he points out.

"But the natural progression of going from assistant coach to head coach, that is when a stumbling block occurs. With so many women serving as assistant coaches, there is a large pool to choose from when it comes to hiring a head coach, but it happens less often than it should."

"This issue is very complex and there are likely a number of reasons for why women are less prevalent at the head coaching ranks than men. You hate to use the word 'discrimination,' but that appears to be what is happening across all women's sports, as women currently make up just 42 percent of all head coaches of women's teams across all divisions and sports," Sagas adds.

"The unwillingness on the part of men to hire more women as head coaches is very evident, even when there are so many women assistant coaches to choose from."

"The final result is that women are being marginalized - they are often hired for entry level positions or as assistant coaches, but they still remain less likely than men to be hired as a head coach."