Study shows lack of female head coaches

The issue of gender equality in America has always been a hot button issue, whether it is equal pay, equal rights or equal opportunity. The same is true in the world of sports.

The number of women coaching female college athletes is at an all-time low, according to a study done by the University of Minnesota in 2013. In 1974, over 90 percent of collegiate women’s teams were coached by women. That number today is around 43 percent, according to the study. Men control about 80 percent of all head coaching jobs in D-I sports.

The enaction of Title IX in 1972 allowed women more opportunities into the world of sports, playing or coaching, than ever before. However, Title IX also gave men more and more opportunities to coach both sexes.

At UNA, men hold seven of the 10 head coaching positions. The opportunities for women are there, but, according to UNA athletic director Mark Linder, the applicants are not, depending on the sport.

“It seems like in (women’s soccer) it is dominated by male applicants. Even to get a female applicant to coach women’s soccer is really slim. I don’t understand the dynamics of that,” Linder said. “In women’s basketball it’s not quite as shifted toward men as it is in women’s soccer but still probably more male applicants than female.”

Head volleyball coach Stephanie Radecki does not see any reason why more women do not apply for head coaching positions.

“I can’t think of anything that would hinder a female to apply for a head coaching position. I am sure that there are personal reasons why a particular person might not apply for a head coaching position, but it is hard for me to say because I am a head coach,” Radecki said. “Being a female never stopped me from applying.”

Not only are female applicants for women’s sports low, but the number of female applicants for male sports is almost non-existent. Only about 2-4 percent of male sports have female head coaches, according to the same University of Minnesota report.

Even at the assistant coach level, female applicants for men’s sports are fewer.

“I don’t think that I’ve ever had a female apply for an assistant’s job,” said head basketball coach Bobby Champagne. “Any time I’ve had an assistant’s job open, it’s been all male applicants.”

Linder said if a female applied for a men’s head coaching job, gender would not be a factor.

“We’d look at credentials,” he said. “They have to have the ability to recruit, they have to know the game, and I always look to see what their lineage is — if they’ve come from successful programs or not — because there’s something to be said about someone who has been around winning.”

Some of UNA’s coaches believe there will be more women get into the men’s side, even at the head coaching level.

“I don’t see any reason why there can’t be (a female head coach),” Champagne said. “I don’t think gender plays a part in it. I don’t know about in other sports, but basketball is the same game.”

As for the male athletes, a female head coach may take some getting used to.

“If she had everything under control and handled things like any other man would, you shouldn’t really have a problem with it,” said outfielder Brandon Pugh. “Winning is winning. If you help us win, I’m fine.”

Despite the low numbers, optimism for more women in the college coaching profession is there, Linder said.

“I think we’re starting to see a shift,” he said. “In this generation (female coaches) won’t be foreign to them.”