Research pertaining to female coaches at the professional, intercollegiate, and interscholastic levels exists, but attention to females in positions of power in youth sport is limited. Given youth sport is an important social institution that affects millions of children and their families, it provides a rich opportunity for creating social change and challenging stereotypical beliefs pertaining to gender and leadership. This study uses the theoretical framework of occupational sex-segregation—specifically tokenism and marginalization (Kanter, 1977a, 1977b)—to examine the representation of females in positions of power (N = 5,683; Head Coaches, Assistant Coaches, Team Managers) within one Midwestern youth soccer association. Based on the data, female coaches are considered “tokens” within all boys’ teams and at the highest competitive level of girls’ teams, and are marginalized and underrepresented in all positions of power at almost all age groups and competitive levels. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
Matea Wasend and Nicole M. LaVoi
A plethora of research on barriers facing women in the coaching profession exists, but less attention has been devoted to female student-athletes’ transition into coaching. Some research suggests that female athletes who are coached by women are more likely to become coaches. In the present study, existing research is extended by examining the relationship between collegiate female basketball players’ post-playing career behavior and the gender of their collegiate head coach. Two research questions are addressed: (1) Are female collegiate Division-I basketball players who are coached by female head coaches more likely to enter the coaching profession than athletes who are coached by men? And; (2) If female basketball players do enter coaching, are those who were coached by women more likely to persist in coaching? Collegiate head coach gender did not emerge as a significant predictor of athletes’ likelihood to enter coaching, but logistic regression indicated that athletes who did enter coaching were 4.1-times more likely to stay in coaching if they had a female head coach. This study extends the scarce and outdated body of research on the potential salience of same-sex coaching role models for female athletes and provides baseline data on collegiate athletes’ entry rate into coaching, lending support to advocacy aimed at reversing the current stagnation of women in the sport coaching profession.
Mary Jo Kane and Nicole LaVoi
Two generations removed from Title IX, women have made unprecedented advances in sports. Yet there remains one important arena where females have witnessed dramatic declines—leadership positions, most notably in coaching. The percentage of female coaches has declined from 90% in the early 1970s to 43% in 2018. In 1988, Acosta and Carpenter surveyed intercollegiate athletic directors (ADs) regarding their attributions for this employment trend. They found significant gender differences whereby male ADs focused on the attributes of individual women (e.g., they are unqualified), while female ADs highlighted organizational factors (e.g., success of “old boys’ network”). This investigation replicated and extended the earlier study. We surveyed a nationwide sample of college athletic administrators to determine current-day perceptions regarding the underrepresentation of female head coaches. Significant gender differences emerged in that female administrators continued to rate institutional variables such as unconscious discrimination as key attribution factors, while male administrators attributed the absence to individual variables such as time constraints due to family obligations. An unexpected finding compared to 30 years ago was that female ADs, even more strongly than their male counterparts, believed that a major contributing factor was women’s failure to apply for jobs. These findings—and their broader implications—are discussed within the theoretical framework of critical feminist theory.
Sarah I. Leberman and Nicole M. LaVoi
Despite the ubiquitous presence of mothers in sport contexts, mothers’ voices are often absent in the sport literature, particularly at the youth sport level. A phenomenological approach was used to explore the experiences of working mother volunteer youth sport coaches. A role-triad model based on the work-family enrichment and role enhancement literature provided the theoretical framework. The purpose was to understand how and why working mother-coaches mange this role triad and to identify mother-worker skills which may transfer to youth coaching and vice versa. Semistructured interviews were conducted with eight working mother-coaches and analyzed for themes. Findings suggest that notions of being a good mother and reasons for coaching are very similar, including spending time together, developing life skills and role modeling. Participants negotiated multiple roles using cognitive tools, such as reframing and separation of roles. The reciprocal benefits of motherhood, working and coaching for themselves and others were highlighted.
Nicole LaVoi, Jo Ann Buysse, Heather Maxwell and Mary Jo Kane
This study employed a decision making corollary to Kanter’s homologous reproduction theory (1977ab) to examine the intersections of occupational position of decision maker, sex of decision maker and media representations within intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. Data were gathered from Bowl Championship Series schools across 12 selected sports that published a media guide for the 2003-04 season. Data included two components: 1) 528 total media guides (252 for men; 276 for women) and; 2) corresponding data (n = 528) pertaining to who made the decision regarding how athletes were portrayed on the media guide covers. Descriptive analysis revealed two trends: 1) women were under represented (i.e., “tokens”) as sole decision makers within men’s sports, but not for women’s sports and; 2) a majority of decisions were not made alone, but by a decision-making dyad with both men’s and women’s sports. Logistic regression analysis revealed which factors significantly influenced media portrayals in men’s and women’s sports. Results are framed using mechanisms of gendered social control exercised in sport organisations–homophobia, homologous reproduction, and hegemony. Implications for application and future research are suggested.
Nicole M. LaVoi, Erin Becker and Heather D. Maxwell
Given the lack of nationalized and required coach education programs for those involved with youth sports, self-help coaching books are a common source of knowledge. With the exception of critiques of young adult sports fiction (Kane, 1998; Kreigh & Kane, 1997), sport media research has lacked investigation of mediums that impact non-elite youth athletes and adolescent girls, and youth coaches and parents of young female athletes. The purpose of this study is to examine ‘coaching girls’ books–specifically how differences between female and male athletes are constructed. A content analysis was performed on selective chapters within a criterion sampling of six best-selling, self-help ‘coaching girls’ books. Results indicate coaching girls books are written from a perspective of inflated gender difference, and represent a simplified, stereo-typed account of coaching girls. Four first-order themes emerged from analysis: Problematizing Coaching Girls, Girls Constructed As “Other,” Ambivalence, and Sustaining the Gender Binary. Implications of these themes are discussed.
Austin Stair Calhoun, Nicole M. LaVoi and Alicia Johnson
Sport scholars have connected heteronormativity and heterosexism to the creation of privilege for the dominant group. They also contend that the coverage and framing of female athletes and coaches promote heteronormativity across print, broadcast, and new media. To date, research examining heteronormativity and heterosexism on university-sponsored athletics Web sites is scarce. Using framing theory, online biographies of NCAA intercollegiate head coaches of 12 conferences (N = 1,902) were examined for textual representations of heteronormativity and heterosexism. Biographies were coded based on the presence or absence of personal text—and the presence or absence of family narratives. The data demonstrate a near absence of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered coaches, suggesting that digital content of intercollegiate athletic department Web sites reproduces dominant gender ideologies and is plagued by homophobia in overt and subtle ways.
Nicole M. LaVoi, Jennifer E. McGarry and Leslee A. Fisher
Janet S. Fink, Mary Jo Kane and Nicole M. LaVoi
“I want to be respected for what I do instead of what I look like”
—Janie, a swimmer
“They can see the moves I make, the action I make [on the court]. But I also want them to see this is who I am off the court. I’m not just this basketball player. I can be somebody else”
—Melanie, a basketball player
Despite unprecedented gains in women’s sports 40 years after Title IX, female athletes are rarely used in endorsement campaigns and, when used, are presented in sexually provocative poses versus highlighting their athletic competence. This pattern of representation continues, though empirical evidence demonstrates consumers prefer portrayals focusing on sportswomen’s skill versus their sex appeal. Research also indicates females are keenly aware of gendered expectations which create tensions between being athletic and “appropriately feminine.” The current study addresses what we don’t know: how elite female athletes wish to be portrayed if promised the same amount of financial reward and commercial exposure. Thirty-six team and individual scholarship athletes were asked to choose between portrayals of femininity and athletic competence. Findings revealed that competence was the dominant overall choice though close to 30% picked both types of portrayals. Metheny’s gendered sport typology was used to analyze how sportswomen’s preferences challenge, or conform to, traditional ideologies and practices surrounding women’s sports. Implications for sport management scholars and practitioners are discussed.
Ted M. Butryn, Nicole M. LaVoi, Kerri J. Kauer, Tamar Z. Semerjian and Jennifer J. Waldron
Over the past decade, a growing number of scholars in sport psychology and sport sociology have begun forging inter- and transdiciplinary research lines that attempt to follow Ingham, Blissmer, and Wells Davidson’s (1998) call for a coming together of the sport sociological and sport psychological imaginations. This paper presents the results of a thematic analysis of the stories of five early-to midcareer academics who have lived at/through the boundaries of these two sub disciplines of Kinesiology. Following an introduction in which we attempt to situate the two subdisciplines within the larger field of Kinesiology, we present a thematic analysis of the five individual stories, and attempt to tie them to the politicized boundaries and related spaces of tensions faced by those wishing to do the kind of interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary work advocated recently by the emerging areas of cultural sport psychology (CSP) and physical cultural studies (PCS).