Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It Gets Better? Not For Women Coaches.

Here is an excellent article that explores the state of women in coaching and discusses the disturbing statistics that tell us the number of women coaching women’s teams has declined even as the numbers of women athletes participating in college sports has risen. On the other side, women are still not considered serious candidates for coaching men’s teams. The result is that men now coach almost all men’s teams and 58% of women’s teams.

This article discusses many factors that must be considered in understanding why this is happening. One factor the authors explore is the continuing effects of that lethal combination of sexism and homophobia in sports. This climate discourages women from seeking coaching positions and results in many women who do have coaching positions either leaving the field or being let go and, in effect, banned from the coaching field.

This state of affairs is particularly difficult to reconcile given the increase in the number of straight male straight allies who have stepped up to challenge homophobia in sports. In contrast, there is a pervasive silence among straight women in sport. It is difficult, even for someone like me who keeps up with this kind of information, to name straight women equivalents to Hudson Taylor, Patrick Burke or Ben Cohen. Anyone who wants to begin to understand why this is so should read this article.

I’ve had some really interesting conversations with several men who are LGBT sports advocates who tell me that gay men coaches and athletes coming out over the few years are receiving a positive reaction from their teams and colleagues. It’s just not a big deal. It seems that it is getting better for gay men in sport.
I don’t want to discount the fact that there are also lesbian athletes and coaches who are out to their teams and colleagues. Things are getting better in women’s sports too, a little. But things are getting better in women’s sports despite the pervasive effects of homophobia and sexism. The problem is that homophobia and sexism and the fear these evil twins engender keep women from challenging discrimination against all women and against lesbians in sport. They keep lesbian athletes and coaches, especially from high profile programs, in the closet. They keep straight women allies silent. Homophobia and sexism discourage talented women athletes who might be great coaches from considering coaching as a viable career option. They do not want to live in the closet or they don’t want to battle men’s teams for a fair share of the resources.

I co-led a workshop on LGBT issues in women’s basketball at the recent Women’s Basketball Coaches Association in Denver. Hearing the coaches who attended the workshop talk about the continuing effects of sexism and homophobia on their lives makes it difficult to believe that the gains made in addressing homophobia in men’s sports are equally true for women’s sports.

Read this article. It will help you understand why it doesn’t seem to be getting that much better for women coaches, especially when those coaches are lesbians.


Anonymous said...

The most important real world fact that came out of that article was that far fewer women than men are even applying for coaching positions.

It doesn't take a giant intellect to understand that if women don't actually apply for coaching jobs they aren't going to get them.

I imagine you are willing to blame the fact women don't even bother to apply on homophobia. The truth is that coaching is a tough, poorly paid profession unless you reach near the top. It could well be as simple as a lot of women have other vocational options that fit with their lives better.

I think the real issue that frustrates the LGBT crew is that many lesbians don't want to live their personal lives in the closet and they feel that if they coach they will have to. That and many have blamed their lack of progress in the coaching profession on their gender identity which may or may not be true. It is certainly convenient.

I also think that because of the disproportionate participation of lesbians in organized women's sports, particularly at the college and pro levels, there are by definition more lesbians that want to coach and they are less likely to be intimidated by the time commitment than would a cis woman coach that wants to start a family or whose decision is otherwise impacted by a husband. That would make their inability to land a coaching position even more frustrating. So if our current cultural reality is such that they won't apply for coaching jobs because they don't want to be Out then it kind of is what it is.

From my perspective the bottom line is that many young women athletes are very close to their fathers concerning sports related issues. I have read your book and I found nothing in it that would increase the comfort level of a normal father that is working with his daughter to choose a collegiate program to participate in. Cis men generally don't want their daughters dropped into programs being coached by Out lesbians or who have a well known reputation as being lesbian friendly.

You folks can call that unfair and homophobic. Fathers call it being involved and responsible and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

Gary said...

Uses NO Electricity - Portable Alkaline Water Machine with Enriched Hydrogen & Ionized-Minerals

A few of the Benefits:
(many more at our site http://ecogreenenergies.com/alkaline-mineral-water)

• Water purification

• Prevents illness / diseases

• Prevents acidification of the body

• Produces energized and magnetized H2O

• Raises PH levels to a consistent 8.5 naturally

• Drinking from this source everyday improves blood circulation, improves immunity and removes reactive oxygen species that cause illness & disease.

• Adds stabilized Ionic-Minerals that are easily absorbed by the body

• NATURAL processes to raise alkalinity and ionized-mineral delivery

• Improves immunity with superior NATURAL, oxidation reducing processes

• Instantly removes all water pollutants (*WQA Gold Seal – Tested & Certified)

• Supplies an amazing 4,732 liters/1,250 gallons of highly purified, alkalinized, Ion-mineral, stabilized H20 (per filter intervals)

• Boosts mental clarity


Wyman Stewart said...

The first order of need appears to be, an unbiased study by professional researchers, to determine the cause(s), for why the number of women coaches has decreased over the years, rather than increased.

What is offered in your post and in the story you link to is anecdotal evidence at best; perhaps, with some special pleading tossed in. You even omit the concept that among men who coach male sports, their much longer history in sports, probably plays a key role in why men get more second and third chances than women do, at this point.

Even if it is true women get fewer second chances, there may be no connection with why women initially decide to become coaches. In fact, I would guess, and this may be equally valid with any of your anecdotal evidence, that women may be choosing not to become coaches because of much wider opportunities today for women in other fields, at equal to or higher pay than for coaches. I think this is mentioned, then ignored for the rest of the article. You can't ignore this!

Pat, many of your own points would be far down the list of consideration, since no matter the orientation of the female, females are not going into coaching. Too many other possibilities need to be examined before anything like sexism and homophobia come into play.

Call it my personal bias, but I would like to see more women coaches in women's sports. It's up to women to make that happen, not me. If women choose not to go into the sports field, short of provable discrimination keeping them out of the field, I can only watch the game as a fan.

I think it is also forgotten that due to Title IX, many men lost their coaching jobs, when various men's sports were eliminated to comply with the law. In the end, those men either found jobs coaching women's sports or were forced out of their chosen field, which they spent a lifetime preparing to work in. No one ever talks about these men. Those who have adapted by coaching women's sports, probably should not be demoted, nor demeaned.

I repeat, a proper study needs to be done; an unbiased study. I, myself, would like to know why there are not more women coaches. On the surface, it makes no sense, but there may be many valid reasons. Knowing the reasons, then finding the best way to deal with those reasons, is what will increase the number of women coaching sports.

Name calling, biased sexism on your part and the part of others, and yelling homophobia, solves nothing and proves even less. It's unreal that you, a retired professor and former coach, failed to take a more OBJECTIVE approach to this topic. Do you want a solution or a reason to rant? The first accomplishes something positive; the second, tears down what already works.

Diane said...

I'm not sure I read the same blog as Anonymous and Wyman. I think you covered many reasons why women are not coaches at the highest levels in either men's or women's sports.

I've had the experience of coaching adult men while in the military and I can tell you that the issues I faced in the early 80's are some of the same mentioned in your blog. While I managed to earn the respect of my players by being a capable coach, I did not get that same respect from fellow male coaches. At first they thought I was just the team water-girl and when it became obvious I wasn't I then became a "front person" for some anonymous male player who was obviously calling the shots. As the season progressed and my team became a dominant force I became alternately a "lesbian bitch" who castrated the players or a slut who slept with them. My only revenge was winning the league trophy. I unfortunately decided to not coach the team the following year to spare my players the turmoil, although they gladly defended me.

The experience I had did nothing to inspire any other capable women to tackle coaching a men's team, on the contrary it just enforced what an unbelievably hard job it was. Sadly, I see some of the same issues come up in your blog. I do think in some circles women are becoming more accepted as head coaches at a high level, but those circles are very, very small.

Carolyn Peck and Kara Lawson brought up the aspect of getting women coaches in the pipeline, but only so far as coaching men's teams. Women who want to coach have to be as aggressive about getting any coaching job as they are about defense or points in the paint.

Please keep up the good work and keep speaking out. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Diane - We're all three reading the same blog, you just don't like our takes.

As the original article notes, women aren't even applying in decent numbers to coach women's teams so why in the world would you or Pat think there would be a reasonable opportunity for women to be coaching men's sports?

Maybe you and you sisters should actually start applying for coaching jobs instead of wasting time and ink putting out articles / posts complaining about women not getting jobs that they don't appear to want bad enough to even put their names in the mix.

It's really quite sad to observe you ladies complain about this obviously self-inflicted wound. Evidently you are so used to playing the victim card that when you actually have to compete against smart, aggressive, hard working male coaching candidates you ladies won't even get out of bed.

I learned quite a bit playing ball in high school and college, but learning how to quit when things got tough wasn't one of those experiences.

The bottom line is more men in general are willing to take the lower level, difficult coaching positions and stick with coaching as a career as long as it takes to succeed than women are.

You can probably thank Title IX for that. Women appear to be so used to getting things handed to them in the name of political correctness that you ladies can't handle straight up competition for coaching jobs. You have no one to blame but yourselves.

Anonymous said...

About four years ago I was on a search committee for a D-! head coaching position for a women's team. The associate AD who was heading the search told us, "we will not consider any woman who is a lesbian or who 'might' be a lesbian". Given those guidelines, we could only consider women who were married. Several women applied, but the associate AD refused to interview single women. Of course, this was only my experience, but I have heard similar stories at other institutions.

Anonymous said...

Did it occur to you that the women that submitted their resumes weren't as qualified as the men who did so and that the AD approved for interviews only those most qualified for the job and who would have the most positive impact upon the athletic department and university?

As far as your lesbian claim goes please forward any articles or links that support the concept that there is a generally positive impact upon those programs that go out of their way to hire lesbians as coaches. I'd like to take a look at them. Note that I'm looking for articles penned by people that actually work in the athletic departments, not Gender Studies or the Social Sciences as we already know what their agenda is.

Wyman Stewart said...

I think Diane's comments remind me a lot of how guys react not just with women, but to other situations, men are eventually forced to relate to and accept. I believe had she coached a second year, she would have found it easier, not easy, but easier. I am not saying it should be this way, but it is. Part of it is that men are competitive to a degree that can go beyond necessity. Then too, with men, you often have to earn your way into the group. I understand Diane's feelings. Military life is stressful enough as it is, without adding more stress, especially, unneccary stress. That fact prevented Diane from having the chance to learn what I am talking about, but I would think she's encountered in other ways, if in the military; including ways she would approve of. It's a shame Diane lacked a mentor who could guide her through what she went through. However, I understand her feelings.

As for Anonymous who was on a coaching "search committee" I would have to know more about the institution to determine whether the person played the right role in the situation mentioned.

If it only cost me my spot on the search committee, I would have responded to the Assistant AD's words with, "Put in writing, so I can check the legality and the university's policies on the topic." Then I would mention the need to do this for self-protection, to potentially avoid future prosecution, even if I failed to follow his directions, while the results turned out as though I did.

To me, unless it can be objectively shown that no single woman candidate was worthy of consideration, the Assistant AD and possibly the "search committee," violated anti-discrimation laws based on marital status.

It's possible standing up for what was right cost too high a price to pay it, but on the surface, Anonymous appears to have allowed his /her self to be successfully bullied! I don't always agree with things, such as laws or policies, but I accept in a civilzed society, your duty is to obey the law or be willing to agree to resign for the sake of your moral conscience. I wonder why Anonymous chose not to do the right thing, while I also ask that question of the Assistant AD?

Coach Outlet Store Online said...

I have to say it is really a good post. I have learnt a lot. Thank you!

pay per head software said...

I didn't expect that something like that happened. I have to admit that we are more opened mind than before and the number of women coaching are decreasing.

Women Executive Coaching said...

Very nice blog on career coaching.It helped a lot.Thank you for sharing this wonderful information.I know another institute of career coaching it's also providing their best services in career coaching and life coaching.

Women Executive Coaching

Anonymous said...

For those asking for scientific research: http://acostacarpenter.org/AcostaCarpenter2012.pdf

Many here:

And others in the field of sport sociology.