As Female Athletes Gain, Female Coaches Lose Out

Report finds decline in representation of women coaching women.
February 21, 2006

As the number and college sports teams for women continues to grow, hitting an all-time high, the proportion of women coaching those teams is in free fall, according to an annual study by two retired Brooklyn College professors.

Linda Jean Carpenter and R. Vivian Acosta have been studying and reporting on the representation of women in college sports for decades; the latest edition of their national longitudinal study, "Women in Intercollegiate Sport," is the 29th in a series.

In 2006, it finds, members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association sponsored 8,702 teams, up from 8,402 in 2004 and 6,436 in 1998. The 2006 figure translates into an average of 8.45 teams per college, which has risen steadily from 5.61 in 1978, the first year of the study.

But as those numbers have increased, the proportion of women coaching women’s teams has declined. In 2006, 42.4 percent of the head coaches of women’s squads were female, down from 44.1 percent in 2004 and 47.7 percent a decade earlier, in 1996. Because few women coach men’s teams -- about 2 percent of the total -- only 17.7 percent of all college coaches are women.

“So even though there has been a massive growth in female participation in athletics, there has been a massive decrease in female participation as coaches,” Acosta and Carpenter write.

The report also offers a mixed portrait of the role of women as sports administrators. In 2006, 18.6 percent of sports programs for women were led by female athletics directors, which is up from 17.8 percent in 2000 but down from 21 percent in 1994.


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