Part IV: “Women aren’t as interested in coaching as men.”

This marks the fourth blog in the Changing the Narrative about Women Sport Coaches series.  Brief review: In Part I and II of this series I laid out how women coaches are framed shapes the discussion, and the numerous “blame the women” narratives that exist. In Part III the “Women don’t apply” narrative was addressed. In this blog I will provide a counter to another common narrative: “Women aren’t as interested in coaching as men.”

Colleen Powers, Head Softball Coach, St. Catherine University

Similar to the “women don’t apply” narrative, when fewer women (compared to men) apply for an open position, the fewer number of women provides proof that women aren’t as, or are less, interested in coaching than men. Here is another way to look at this narrative.

  1. As has been proven with sport participation, interest is driven by opportunity. When girls and women were provided opportunity to play sports after the passage of Title IX in 1972, they played. Before Title IX, one could have argued that females weren’t interested in sport because they didn’t play as much as boys. Females were interested and once given opportunity, we now we have record numbers of girls and women playing sports at all levels. Applied to women in sport coaching, currently women are impeded from and denied opportunity to coach compared to their male colleagues. Less than half of college female athletes (~40%) and very few males (~2-3%) are coached by women…that means that only 23% of all head college coaches are women (see data here). Men have a dual career pathway (more opportunity) to coach both males and females, while women do not. Women have less opportunity to coach. This is true at every level of sport.  Less opportunity = less interest.

  2.  “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

  3. It is simply not possible that as women participate in record numbers in sport, have passion for their sport, and become more experienced and more knowledgeable, that women simultaneously become less interested in coaching.

  4. Most coaches (male or female) don’t get a job by randomly applying. Coaches get recruited, tapped or encouraged to apply (i.e., they are ON the short list) by someone in their network, then he/she applies. If one isn’t encouraged to apply, then why would one waste his/her time applying AND run the risk of damaging relationships at the current workplace by signalling they are looking for a job elsewhere? In short, not applying does not mean not interested.  Not applying has more to do with being tapped for the short list and one’s informal and formal networks which I outline in Part III of this series.

  5. Really big picture: What do you mean by “interested?” Who gets to define “interest in” coaching? What criteria are being used to define “interest?”


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