Female Coaches in High School Sports: Data Released

You don’t need to look far or drill down very deep in a Google Search on ‘female coaches’ to find out two facts.

1. Female coaches at all competitive levels have declined since Title IX passed in 1972
2. Female coaches are the minority in almost every workplace

Many are familiar with the longitudinal work of Vivian Acosta and Linda Carpenter, who have tracked the number of females in positions of power in intercollegiate athletics for the past 35 years. Based on their data we know that in 1972 over 90% of female college athletes were coached by women, and in 2012 that number is near an all time low at 42.9%.   To date a similar nationwide analysis for high school sports did not exist.Colleague Cindra Kamphoff, PhD and I decided to change that by analyzing a 2010 national data set of high school coaches we obtained from a reputable coaching directory. Some interesting, but not surprising, patterns emerged. Here are three key findings:

Slide141. 27% of all high school head coaches are female

2. Females coached of girls’ teams (39.6%) more often than boys’ teams (7.5%)Slide16

3. In basketball, the most popular** high school sport (and therefore the most visible, prestigious, important, valued, and known) females coached girls’ (28.1%) teams more often than boys’ (0.2%) teams.

Based on the data, female head coaches are often statistical tokens (<15% of a workforce) and marginalized (i.e., assigned to coach the less important and visible teams) in high school athletics. Tokens often experience or are subjected to scrutiny, pressure to over-perform to gain credibility, discrimination, harassment, and a host of negative workplace outcomes, and this is supported in the vast literature on barriers and support for female coaches which I’ve previously written about on this blog.

**most popular as indicated by the National Federation of High Schools

NOTE: Complete and refined analysis will continue. Please note these numbers represent a 3-5% variance, are not exact, but provide an initial picture into power, leadership, and high school sports.

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