Double Punch to the Glass Ceiling: Career Experiences and Challenges of Ethnic Minority Female Athletic Directors

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 Linfield University
  • 2 The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
  • 3 University of Tennessee
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Women continue to struggle to reach senior-level leadership positions in collegiate sports, and ethnic minorities face the challenges due to their ethnicity as well. This research examined the experiences and challenges of ethnic minority women who are collegiate athletic directors at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Semistructured interviews were conducted with eight participants using intersectionality as a theoretical framework. Three themes emerged from the data analysis: (a) intersectional challenges, (b) questions of competence, and (c) professional support. The women were continually battling the idea of having to prove themselves and negotiating the challenges of being an ethnic minority woman working in collegiate athletics. They credit their professional networks as a valuable resource during their career progression. The women noted that sexism was more prevalent in their experiences than issues related to their ethnicity. The masculine athletic director stereotype persists in collegiate sports, but the findings of this study can contest the notion of a standard leadership identity that has long been perceived as a White man.

Welch is with Linfield University, McMinnville, OR, USA. Siegele is with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC, USA. Hardin is with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.

Hardin (robh@utk.edu) is corresponding author.
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