Friday, January 16, 2009

NCAA Study Examines Gender Gap in College Coaching

The NCAA has released a new report that addresses gender equity in college athletics. The report compiles responses to survey questionnaires that the NCAA administered to female student-athletes, coaches, administrators and aofficials in order to identify "factors that continue to influence women's careers, motivate women to seek careers in intercollegiate athletics, and to identify potential obstacles institutions may face in recruiting and retaining women in coaching, administration, and officiating postitions."

Women are the minority among college coaches, constituting less than a quarter of head coaches overall and less than half of coaches of women's teams. The popular assumption is that women are not interested in head coaching positions because the job is not family friendly. This assumption did find some support in the coaches responses. While most coaches reported favorably on their work-life balance, about a third of coaches surveyed (32%) disagreed that they have work-life balance. Similarly, 35% of coaches ranked family commitments as the most common reason why women don't go in to coaching. While these percentages are substantial, however, they are comparable to the percentage of coaches who reported dissatisfaction with other job factors like salary (33%) and gender equality within the athletic department (38%). This suggests to me that factors beyond family -- factors that are within an institution's control and that are affected by discrimiantion toward women in athletics -- are at least as signficant in determining whether women join or choose to remain in coaching. In addition to being proactive about ameliorating work-life balance concerns, athletic departments need to equalize salaries and treatment of their female coaches in order to retain them in the profession.

A similar recommendation might be warranted with respect to administration and officiating. Overall, female athletic adminstrators, like coaches, reported high levels of job satisfaction. However, a substantial 37% reported dissatisfaction in gender equity within their athletic departments (a dissatisfaction rate second only to 40% for "level of stress involved with the job"). Similarly, gender discrimination was the most popular reason for job dissatisfaction among female officials (45% expressing dissatisfaction).