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.




Spread the Shred

By Erin Piercy

As a lover of mountains, the great outdoors, and winter (well, sometimes), it’s only natural that I am drawn to winter action sports. Skiing has been a huge part of my life, as my parents, aunts, and brothers all have a passion for pow. I remember the first time I ever tried skiing, I went down the Bunny Hill at Crabbe a handful of times, then demanded to try the King’s Horn. I was fearless as a little girl, and felt entitled to do everything my older brothers did in the athletic world, but I felt reservations as I grew older when I wanted to try the rails and the jumps with my brothers and there weren’t any other girls out there with them.

Winter action sports include ski and snowboard Big Air, Slopestyle, and Superpipe, among others. Although these sports are dominated by men, roughly 70% of participation rates, women are quickly gaining momentum. A huge advocate for women’s skiing is Ontario born Sarah Burke. Sarah excelled at what she did and is argued to be the most influential female skier ever. She had a passion for skiing, and wanted to encourage other girls to get on their skis and ready for competition. When Sarah first started competing, she was the only female in contests, and was the first to land many tricks of the trade, including a 720, 900, and 1080.

Sarah tirelessly pushed for women’s categories in contests, and ultimately ski halfpipe to be included in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She was granted her lifelong wish in 2011 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) accepted it as a winter Olympic event. Sarah never did get the chance to compete in the Olympics in the sport that she pioneered due to her untimely death in 2012. Although she may be gone, her legacy continues to live. You can’t escape many commentaries on a women’s contest without hearing Sarah’s name being mentioned, and how much she did for the growth of the sport for women. She continues to be a positive role model for girls and women alike, on and off the mountain.

The IOC has stated “to encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures, with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women”. In 2014 at the Sochi Olympics, they introduced Ski Jumping for women, had the highest participant rates for women at 40.3%, and an equal 50/50 split between men and women for number of events. It was mentioned in class that around 50% of funding is for Canadian women athletes, and what I think is even better is that women win more medals!

Sarah may not have influenced women ski jumpers, or alpine skiers, but the fact remains that there definitely need to be more female role models like her out there. American snowboarder athletes, Olympians, and X-Games medal winners, Kelly Clark, Elana Hight, Lindsey Jacobellis, and Grete Eliassen all share that promoting the sport through social media and TV coverage will encourage young girls to get involved. Hight brings up a great point where (generally) “women respond to other women, not to men”. I can vouch for this, as watching the women at the Olympics inspired me to get out to the hill more than I had been in the last few years, to catch some air, and break out of my comfort zone. So if it can get me, someone’s whose talents are just to get down the hill, to get out there and try new things, who knows what more coverage on women’s sports could do for girls who have knack for the intricacies and style of the action sports! We need to #CelebrateSarah, and shake off any doubt that women can’t keep up with the guys. Women do run the same slopestyle course as the men, and women do use the same superpipe. Women are doing the same tricks as men, and are getting great scores in contests…there just needs to be more of them! I think having these strong, talented women at the forefront of action sports is inspiring and I’m excited what new things will happen in the coming years as they continue to “spread the shred”.

Are male coaches overpowering female coaches?

By Laura McNicholas

As a female athlete, coach, and referee in soccer, I find it astounding how little women are involved in professional sports – especially when it comes to being in charge of a team. The opportunities are there for some, if not most of these women, and it got me wondering as to what it is that prevents them from becoming a coach.

The Glass Ceiling effect is most often seen as the effect that implies gender disadvantages are stronger at the top of the hierarchy, than at lower levels and that these disadvantages worsen with age (Cotter, 2001). This effect is still occurring in Canada, the number of women becoming CEO’s is not increasing over the course of time. Men are still more than twice as likely to hold a senior position as women are. In the coaching industry, a good precedent is not been set if women are still being seen as lower down in the hierarchy.

In class, we discussed the participation rates of female and male coaches. Within Canada, women comprise 22% of all sport coaches and 28% of technical officials. These statistics are quite extraordinary, and do not by any means show the representation of how many women are actually qualified to coach the sport or officiate.

Being a female coach is not an easy place to be in the society. Many people undermine your ability and this ultimately leads to bad experiences, and causes drop outs. From a personal perspective, I have been on the receiving end of comments that were implying that I was not as qualified as a male coach would be. For young girls looking for role models in the coaching side of things, it is mere impossible to find any. On the flip side of things, males have many role models to look up to- especially in professional sports. A post I read online showed that in the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL, not one of the coaches or assistant coaches are female. That is a staggering 1000+ jobs, and not a single one is female (Malady, 2012). Why? I hear you asking, and that is simply the question, why?

Many people perceive females to know less about sports and assume they do not understand the rules, although this is far from the truth. Surely it would not be possible for someone to become a coach, or referee if they did not have an understanding. Another point raised is that people will not and do not respect women as coaches. For me, this is wrong. No matter what sex, gender, race or religion people should be respected equally in this world. For someone who is willing to take time out of their day to help me develop as a player, they would have my respect regardless of their demographics.

For example, if a male is applying for a job as head coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins, then nothing would be wrong with this. If a female was to apply for the same job and happened to get it, many questions would be asked, and eyebrows would be raised as to why and how that happened. Today’s world that we live in is politically driven, and no matter how beneficial someone could be to a team it does not seem of much importance anymore. The main goal is to win trophies, and men have been successful in doing so thus far, is that why teams do not want to change that?


Cotter, D., A., Hermsen, J., M., Ovadia, S., Vanneman, R., (2001). The Glass Ceiling Effect. Oxford University Press/USA, 80(2), 655-681.

Malady, M., J.X., (2012). Why are there still no women coaching men’s sports? And why don’t we care? Retrieved from: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/09/female_coaches_why_aren_t_there_more_women_in_charge_of_men_s_teams_.html

Women’s Role in Coaching and Leading in Sport- Where are all the Female Leaders?

By Julie M.

There are increasing amounts of female participants in sport over the years; in turn increasing the amount of female sports teams. With this increase one would think there would also be an increase in the amount of female coaches and leader as well, but sadly this is not the case. The world of sport in terms of coaching is still dominated by men.

Even though we are seeing women achieve excellence in sport on all levels, somewhere after the end of their athletic careers females seem to get lost in the shuffle of coaching. With the perception of male dominance of coaching and leading in sport, women are not seeing coaching as a worthwhile career option. It is also the view of some men that women do not fit the role of leader in sport even if they were an excellent athlete. These views do create some discrimination went it comes to female coaches.

Having females in a leadership role gives female athletes a role model and someone then can relate to. Young girls need to have more positive female influences in there life. Having a male coach of a female team may sends the message that the opportunities are limited for girl in sport and that they are restricted to athletes only.

You see this inequality at every level of sport, form high school to the Olympics. There should be more women at least coaching female teams. This is not to say man cannot coach female teams, but in terms of the sporting world being dominated by men, there needs to be a place to start. I think that a female coaching female teams is a good place to start in establishing some equality.

We also need to see a change in the way women coach, women are seen as genteel and delicate, therefore only seen coaching sports that are more artistic. For example in the 2014 Olympics figure skating had both men and women coaching, and the highly successful women’s hockey team had a man as the head coach. There is definitely a double standard when it comes to what women can coach. Men can coach both the artistic and aggressive sports, where women are limited to the artistic side of sport.

Leadership in sport is to not only teach younger generations about skills in their given sport but to also teach them about skills that will help them in life such as team work or communication skills. Would it not also be important to teach them about gender equality as well, and what better way to demonstrate that than by having gender equality when it comes to coaching and leading in sport.


Massengale, D., & Lough, N. (2010). Women leaders in sport: Where’s the gender equity? Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 81(4), 6-8. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/215758633?accountid=14611