Career Pathways to NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Head Coach Positions: Do Race and Gender Matter?

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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In 2017–2018, more than 60% of NCAA Division I women’s basketball (DI WBB) players identified as women of color, while less than 17% of the head coaches of DI WBB teams identified as women of color. Larsen, Fisher, and Moret suggested differences in career pathways between black female head coaches and their white female and white and black male counterparts could be one explanation for the aforementioned discrepancy. However, there is currently limited research on the career pathways of DI WBB head coaches to support Larsen and colleagues’ hypothesis. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to analyze the career pathways of DI WBB head coaches to identify race and gender differences. To accomplish this, a content analysis was conducted on the online biographies of head coaches from all 351 DI WBB programs. Significant differences between groups were found in the number of years coaching in DI women’s basketball prior to receiving a first DI head coaching position; both white women (M = 6.97) and women of color (M = 7.94) had significantly more years in DI WBB coaching than white males (M = 4.95; F(3, 348) = 4.63, p = .003). Further, chi-square tests revealed a significant relationship between the race and gender of a coach and the highest level of playing experience and education. These results indicate that race and gender play a significant role in determining what pathway is required to obtain an DI WBB head coaching position. In addition to these research findings, practical implications are discussed.

Larsen is with the Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Sacramento, Sacramento, CA. Clayton is with the Department of Athletics, California State University, Sacramento, CA.

Larsen (leslie.larsen@csus.edu) is corresponding author.
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