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.
Occupational Sex Segregation in a Youth Soccer Organization: Females in Positions of Power
Nicole M. LaVoi
A Longitudinal Examination of Homologous Reproduction in Athletic Directors’ Hiring of Intercollegiate Head Coaches for Women Sports
Courtney Boucher and Nicole M. LaVoi
The underrepresentation of women head coaches of women’s teams at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I level is well documented, and the percentage of women coaching women’s teams has remained stagnant at approximately 40%–43% for more than a decade. Documenting hiring patterns of individuals in positions of power is crucial to understanding why stagnation persists. The purpose of this study was to longitudinally examine the gender distribution of head coaches hired for women’s teams and statistically examine if the gender of the athletic director (AD) impacted who was hired. Data on head coach gender and AD gender were collected between the 2014–2015 and 2021–2022 academic years. Based on the data, gendered hiring patterns emerged. Results indicated that homologous reproduction was present in ADs’ hiring of head coaches of women’s teams. The findings can be used to increase awareness and motivate evidence-based action by holding ADs accountable for their hiring decisions. Findings illuminate the hiring processes in intercollegiate sport, which have numerous implications for women sport coaches. Future research on factors such as external influences on the hiring process and the glass cliff phenomenon is warranted.
Juggling Balls and Roles, Working Mother-Coaches in Youth Sport: Beyond the Dualistic Worker-Mother Identity
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.
Are Women Coached by Women More Likely to Become Sport Coaches? Head Coach Gender and Female Collegiate Athletes’ Entry into the Coaching Profession
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.
Framing With Family: Examining Online Coaches’ Biographies for Heteronormative and Heterosexist Narratives
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.
The Freedom to Choose: Elite Female Athletes’ Preferred Representations Within Endorsement Opportunities
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.
“Coaching Girls”: A Content Analysis of Best-Selling Popular Press Coaching Books
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.
Final Thoughts on Women in Sport Coaching: Fighting the War
Nicole M. LaVoi, Jennifer E. McGarry, and Leslee A. Fisher
We Walk the Line: An Analysis of the Problems and Possibilities of Work at the Sport Psychology-Sport Sociology Nexus
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).
Predictors of Poor Sportspersonship in Youth Sports: Personal Attitudes and Social Influences
David Light Shields, Nicole M. LaVoi, Brenda Light Bredemeier, and F. Clark Power
The present study examined personal and social correlates of poor sportspersonship among youth sport participants. Male and female athletes (n = 676) in the fifth through eighth grades from three geographic regions of the U.S. participated in the study. Young athletes involved in basketball, soccer, football, hockey, baseball/ softball, or lacrosse completed a questionnaire that tapped poor sportspersonship behaviors and attitudes, team sportspersonship norms, perceptions of the poor sportspersonship behaviors of coaches and spectators, and the sportspersonship norms of coaches and parents. Preliminary analyses revealed significant gender, grade, sport area, and location differences in self-reported unsportspersonlike behavior. The main analysis revealed that self-reported poor sport behaviors were best predicted by perceived coach and spectator behaviors, followed by team norms, sportspersonship attitudes, and the perceived norms of parents and coaches. Results are discussed in relation to the concept of moral atmosphere.