Females Show their Game Face as Competitors but Not as Coaches

By Darrion S.

Women’s’ participation in sport is becoming more prevalent than ever, yet there is still little representation of them in leadership roles. Sport can have a positive effect on developing females, however, there is a still a significant lack of opportunities for women to develop sport when they are adults. Coaching is a job market where women have not made significant progress within recent years. Salaries in sport do not compare when considering gender and the lack of professions available for women. In the USA, there is only one full-time assistant coach working in the National Basketball Association and the Women’s National Basketball Association shows that 50% of head coaches and 43% of assistant coaches are men (Berri, 2015). If much of coaches are male, then female children are less likely to consider their opportunities in sport as adults. The gender gap may suggest that discrimination against women in the work force prevents them from moving into leadership positions in organizations. “Recent studies do suggest a significant gender gap in wages, after controlling for variables like education and work experiences that is constant with the presence of wage discrimination,” (Robertson p20, 2010).

In class, we discussed how cultural representation of women is typically sexualized; this inhibits women’s choice in professional coaching. Social control exerted over women based on their sexuality is a factor that affects how they perceive their opportunities. Unfortunately, sports media caters to a large demographic of men, therefore, women have a lack of gender neutrality. When the media sexualizes female athletes, women will inherently feel objectified and possibly rejected from any authority within that sport. A lack of authoritative figures in sports, such as officials and coaches, gives the subliminal message that sports are a place for males and not females. “The lack of female leaders is exclusion from social networks or an under-investment in social capital. It is hard to engage and benefit from social networking if you are in the minority,” (Robertson, 2010, p. 21). To increase the number of female coaches, there must be a cultural change in how woman are depicted in sport. If women are made to feel important in sport, then self-esteem and self-direction are improved; this allows for women to feel that they can function more openly and equally in their sporting community.

I have never had a female coach until my eighth year in wresting when I joined Junior Team Canada and had coaches assigned to me for our trip. I have seen female wrestling coaches at tournaments, but throughout my training in multiple clubs and high school teams, I was only ever coached by men. I eventually coached my high school team which was always male dominated, although, I felt that my place as a coach allowed for girls to feel comfortable in trying the sport. When I think about the possibility of coaching as a profession, I believe I could not acquire the job without achieving a high level of success in wrestling. Coaching my teammates is very entertaining and I love the idea of being paid to coach; however, in my experience, you must earn the ability to be a female coach where men do not. There are many male coaches in wrestling who have not achieved international medals or national status, yet all well-respected women coaches have been on the Olympic team. If I ever make it past Olympic trials, I can consider a job in paid coaching, until then I will settle on the idea of being a high school coach.


Berri, D. (2015, June & july). The Cost of Not Hiring Women Coaches. Retrieved February 09, 2017, from http://time.com/3896935/women-coaches/?iid=sr-link7

Robertson, S. (2010). Taking the Lead : Strategies and Solutions From Female Coaches. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press.




4 responses

  1. Hey Darrion,
    I wanted to just express my two cents on the matter. Women have been put in a tough position as any available coachning opportunity given presents a possible catch-22. The lack of women actively seeking these jobs due to existing norms that are reinforced at every athletic level, the lack of female role models who have successfully coached men, the persistence of discrimination and stereotypes that die slowly, etc… women never coach men’s teams because they’ve never coached men’s teams (Malady, 2012). (At a high level atleast) but what people don’t realize is there have been numerous people around the world that have offered to change the game in their own way. If you have the time, look up people like Natalie Randolph, Nancy Leiberman, and Ellen Staurowsly. All great individuals that have offered progressive ideologies in the world of coaching.
    All in all you raised some good points !

    • Really enjoyed reading your post Darrion,

      At the age of 12 or 13 I had an assistant hockey coach who was a female and this was the first time for myself as well as majority of my teammates. As arrogant preteens who still thought boys were better than girls we all began talking about how we had a girl as a coach and that we were going to lose all of our games because of it. The head coach caught wind of these statements and ordered a practice with no pucks and only skating because of it. When we showed up on the ice that day he informed us that the female coach would be running the practice and that we would have to follow her through each drill, keeping up with her pace. After an hour of exhausting work for the entire team the female coach was barely out of breath and it was finally recognized by myself as well as my teammates that she was by far the best hockey player on the ice and that we could all learn a lot from her. That year I learned more from her as a coach then I did from any other coaches I had throughout all of minor hockey.

      Although I do not agree with the fact that it took her proving herself for us the accept her as a coach I am grateful that I learned this lesson at a young age. From personal experience I believe that females make just as good of coaches in male sports as males do, due to this I believe that coaching opportunities for both male and females should be equal.

      Carson M

  2. Excellent post, Darrion!

    I agree with your point that the absence of female coaches in elite level sports, limits young female athletes to develop that dream and aspire to be coaches. There are female athletes, such as Hayley Wickenheiser and Christine Sinclair, creating progress toward respect, talent, and media coverage in female sport. However, there are limited female coaches who reach the professional scene, and if they get there, their presence at the professional level is brief and often disrespected.

    Women are primarily seen as caregivers and managers within the sport realm. Thus, they fulfill positions such as team manager or physiotherapist. As discussed in class, there are a multitude of reasons for the underrepresentation of female coaches, including slow dying stereotypes that limit opportunities for females, and discrimination against qualified women because of their gender. These barriers make it ultimately impossible for females to get to an elite level coaching position, and if they do, they are heavily criticized compared to their male counterparts.

    Both males and females need to recognize the importance of hiring someone because of their credentials, not their sex. A qualified individual is a qualified individual, gender does not change that. We need individuals to continue to break the glass ceiling and be role models for young female athletes, to inspire another generation of females to fight for equality in sport.

    Megan C.

  3. Hey Darrion,
    You have made some great points in this post! Female coaches have so many hoops to jump through to get a coaching position and generally, teams will not have more than one female coach. In my experience, when on an all girl team, I have had one female head coach, and two assistant male coaches. Although our female coach was technically our head coach, generally we were supposed to listen to our assistant coaches and not bother her because she was “too busy”. Our coed teams we would have three male coaches and one female coach who was basically only around to ask about feelings.

    I wholeheartedly agree that male coaches have such an easy time getting the gig. Most male coaches I have had have been Father’s of female athletes meanwhile the female coaches had actually needed prior personal success in the sport and credentials to become coaches. Although the system should mandate all coaches be certified to coach anyone.

    Do you think that possibly a reason why we see so many male coaches could be that back when the coaches were athletes, the stereotypes were even more severe, and there are just many more retired male athletes than female because of these stereotypes?

    Janelle H.

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.