Creating a New Horizon for Women in Coaching

By Lawrie Woodman

“The number of women athletes at the Olympic Games is approaching 50 per cent. Over the last five Olympic Games (Summer and Winter) the number of female accredited coaches has hovered around 9-11%.”

Summary

  • There has been massive growth in girls’ and women’s participation in sport – this has not been matched by proportionate growth in women coaches.
  • Title IX paradox. While the introduction of Title IX in the USA resulted in much greater funding for women’s sport at college level, more experienced male coaches have benefitted the most from the newly created full-time coaching positions in women’s teams. Before Title IX, over 90% of coaches in women’s intercollegiate sports were women – now only around 42% are women. Similar patterns are emerging in Australia.
  • Barriers. The barriers and challenges for women in coaching are well known – many reflect the general barriers faced by women in any area of endeavour, and some are barriers facing anyone engaging in coaching. Some issues are relevant to female coaches only and some to individual coaches and their specific circumstances.
  • Creating opportunities. Sporting organisations and individual coaches must take purposeful action to improve the balance and diversity of coaching and enhance sport around the world. There are some clear actions that can be taken to improve the environment and create opportunities for growth in women in coaching at all levels.

Long Read – 25 minutes

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As a physical educator and coach developer who worked as a sport professional for almost forty years, including at the Australian Coaching Council, the Australian Sports Commission, the Australian Institute of Sport, Athletics Australia and the Australian Football League, I have closely observed the evolution of coaching and coach development at all levels during that time. There have been many changes, and while there have been attempts, even from the early days, to stimulate the development of women in coaching, it has become apparent that without concerted purposeful action, change will continue to be very slow.

This has become a hot topic over the last couple of years, and I have been thinking about writing on this topic for a while. I mulled over my approach, browsed a few links and articles, but just didn’t get started on the pen to paper (keyboard) bit. On a recent morning, the news came through that veteran US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died. One of her well-known quotes is “Women belong in all places where decisions are made…It should not be that women are the exception”. This triggered in my mind another quote from legendary AFL coach John Kennedy. “At least do something. Do. Don’t think. Don’t hope. Do!” So here goes.

The last ten years has seen an explosion in new participation in sports by girls and women in Australia, and around the world. This has required a whole new group of people to provide coaching for these participants and teams. In general, most of these new coaches at all levels have been men and often these men have not previously coached women athletes.

What history tells us – The Title IX paradox

In a classic example from the USA, a major change to support women’s sport did not help women coaches and on many measures they have gone backwards.

Title IX (Title nine) is a federal civil rights law passed by the US Congress as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. It was aimed at ensuring equal opportunities in federally funded educational institutions. The essence of Title IX was that, in federally funded universities, men’s and women’s sport had to be treated and funded equally:

“No person in the United States shall, based on sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

As someone who has been interested in coaching, and the social impact of sport, I was aware at the time of the potential ground-breaking impact of Title IX on sport in the USA, particularly at college level.

While the introduction of Title IX resulted in much greater funding for women’s sport programs at college level, more experienced male coaches benefitted the most from the newly created full-time coaching positions in women’s teams.

  • Before Title IX, over 90% of coaches in women’s intercollegiate sports were women – now only around 42% are women.
  • For male and female intercollegiate head coaching jobs, women hold only 1 in 5 positions.
  • Since 1999, male coaches have been hired in nearly 75% of the jobs in women’s intercollegiate sports.
  • Women coaching men has not increased post Title-IX, hovering between 2 – 3.5%. Most of these are in individual sports where men and women have the same coach, such as tennis, track, and swimming.

Basketball, which has traditionally been a strong women’s participation sport, with high public interest, is a major exception.  While the drop was still substantial, it appears to have stabilised with around 63% of head coaches of Division 1 women’s teams currently being women. The sport has produced some legendary female coaches at college level, such as, Sylvia Hatchell, Muffet McGraw, Dawn Staley, Vivian Stringer, Pat Summitt and Tara VanDerveer. Interestingly Notre Dame coach McGraw said recently that she would only hire female assistant coaches.

Kim Elsesser, writing in Forbes.com in 2019, provided this perspective.

“Men dominate coaching for the same reason that they run most of our Fortune 500 companies and our country.  When we think of leaders, we tend to think of men.  We want someone to lead our team, our company or our country, then our experience and unconscious bias makes us gravitate toward men.  There is plenty of scientific evidence that when women who are equally qualified present themselves, they seem deficient compared to the man.  Prior to Title IX women did not have to compete with men for these jobs.  When the power, prestige and pay for these jobs increased, women were left behind.”

The situation is very similar in Australia – particularly in those sports which were traditionally male, or male dominant sports. With the rise of professional, or semi-professional, women’s leagues in sports like Australian Football, Basketball, Cricket, Football, Rugby League, Rugby Union, most of the newly appointed coaches (and assistant coaches) have been men. Netball, traditionally a female sport is the exception. In other sports with longer standing women’s participation, such as athletics, triathlon, swimming, water polo, volleyball, and others, despite some notable exceptions, most coaches are also men.

The AFLW has been particularly scrutinised in this regard. Fraser Carson and Julia Walsh from Deakin University, writing in The Conversation stated,

“Coaches are expected to be work-ready so they can elevate a team to the next performance level. This requires time and experience, and timely experience. The AFLW is a case in point: its accelerated timeline left female coaches behind, not unlike Title IX in the US.”

Kate Palmer, a recent CEO of Sport Australia said,

“Female coaches make up less than 15% of coaches across Australia’s high-performance system.”

That a few women are starting to gain coaching positions in men’s teams, while men are dominating coaching of women’s teams might seem to be totally different things, they appear to be inextricably linked in the conversations and are essentially two sides of the same coin. In the first two seasons of AFLW, 25% of teams had a woman as head coach. Despite great success (including one coach winning the inaugural premiership), after season 2, both moved on to be replaced by male coaches.

What are the barriers?

The barriers to women in coaching are well known – many reflect the general barriers faced by women in any area of endeavour in our societies, and some are barriers facing anyone engaging in coaching. Some issues are relevant to female coaches only, and some to individual coaches and their specific circumstances.

These barriers have been well researched and are described in detail by Nicole LaVoi (University of Minnesota), a leading expert on women in coaching. In her 2016 publication titled Women in Sports Coaching, LaVoi addressed this question in depth.

“Sport is one of the most visible and powerful social institutions in the world. Individuals who are seen and known in the world of sports, like coaches, communicate who and what is relevant and valued (and who is not), and a majority of the time in every country in the world, those coaches are men. There are many empirically based reasons why women coaches matter.”

LaVoi and colleague Julia Dutove had previously published an evidence-based ecological model of barriers and supports for female coaches, outlining four areas of interlinking barriers and challenges they faced. The four categories are societal, organisational, interpersonal, and individual. While some of these challenges effect all genders, they tend to have greater consequences for female coaches.

Some of the major barriers and challenges identified are listed and discussed below.

Societal Issues

  • Sport reflects the wider society. The general socialisation of genders contributes to this. There are fewer women in leadership roles in society.
  • Gender stereotypes around what is acceptable for women in high performance roles. Their ability to commit appropriately is questioned if they have families. Women have to rise above society’s current view that they are still the major caregivers of children.

Organisational Barriers

  • Recruitment processes – unconscious bias in which key decision makers put more value on the men’s game/sport.
  • Perception by players that male coaches are better than female coaches. They want the “best coaches” and value experience in men’s sport more.
  • High performance playing experience is seen as a premium quality for coaching.
  • Opportunity to gain experience – insufficient opportunities to gain experience in meaningful roles makes it difficult to meet role criteria.
  • Supportive Networks – women coaches do not (yet) have the well-established formal and informal networks and peer support.
  • Increasing paid coaching roles in women’s sport – male are coaches seeing these professional opportunities and successfully applying for them (at a much higher rate than women).
  • The culture in some coaching environments can be very challenging (unnecessarily) with women expected to adapt their behaviours to fit the system. In some cases, this is to “act like men” (however that is perceived) and, in an era which ostensibly values of “vulnerability, empathy and authenticity”, not the ideal way to coach.
  • Lack of role models – the lack of women as coaching role models at all levels of most sport. This reinforces the view that coaches are male, regardless of who they are coaching.

Interpersonal and Individual Issues

  • Confidence Gap – Women, as with men, can sometimes lack confidence in their own abilities “the imposter syndrome”, or have a real fear of failure. This can deter coaches from applying for positions, attending courses, and doing other things which would be beneficial to their advancement.
  • Reality and perceptions of the coaching roles. Coaching roles can be very demanding in terms of time, commitment, environment, life balance.
  • Expectations around balancing work and family demands.
  • Individual personality
  • System pressure – individual coaches can be seen to be representing all women and have to be better than anyone else, particularly male colleagues. They often feel left isolated and unsupported.

Prevailing paradigms present further challenges

As well as the obvious barriers, and related to them, are some prevailing paradigms or cultural issues that present further challenges.

“Female athletes want to be coached by male coaches.”

It is often stated that talented female players want the best coach possible. There is a mindset that “currently the best coaches are men” and therefore all recent appointments to head coach positions and most support coaches are men (and usually recently retired players).

This is a sentiment underpinning many coaching appointments. CEO of the AFL Coaches Association, Mark Brayshaw says,

“You only get one chance as a player and the women’s players want the best coaches. For the time being, the best coaches are men.”

Bec Goddard, inaugural AFLW Premiership coach with Adelaide Crows and current Hawthorn coach, responds,

“Why you get the players saying the men are the best coaches, is because that’s all they’ve experienced. If you’ve only eaten roast chicken all your life that’s all you know, and that’s all you think is possible.”

Perhaps athletes really want the best coach for themselves – not necessarily a high profile former player – someone who demonstrates they care about them as a person, connect to them, inspire them, facilitate their learning and development (sometimes on a shared journey).

There are other points of view about the capacity of women to coach at the highest level, including in men’s competitions.

Pau Gasol, 19 season NBA player (2x Champions) and three-time Olympic medallist, writing in The Player Tribune in 2018, while at the San Antonio Spurs.

“I’ve been in the NBA for 17 years. I’ve won two championships … I’ve played with some of the best players of this generation … and I’ve played under two of the sharpest minds in the history of sports, in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. And I’m telling you: Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period.”

Lucas Pouille is following in Andy Murray’s footsteps as a top male player to hire a female coach – in this case the same one. In responding to media questions on engaging Amélie Mauresmo as his coach during his run to the 2019 Australian Open Semi-final, he said that under Mauresmo he has improved his serve, his return, and his baseline play. Further,

“She has the right mindset, she knows everything about tennis. It’s not about being a woman or a man, you just have to know what you’re doing, and she does.”

In Australia, there has been regular discussion about whether female coaches can effectively coach men. There have been some very successful partnerships over time (e.g. Tracey Menzies – Ian Thorpe; Iryna Dvoskina – a number of Paralympic champions) and we are seeing an increasing number of women in positions, including leadership positions in professional club high performance sport staff, in strength and conditioning, injury management, psychology, sport science and player welfare.

Four-time AFL Premiership coach David Parkin, who worked with Australian Netball coach Joyce Brown at Deakin University, always believed that, with her coaching knowledge and experience and knowledge of the game, Joyce could have been a successful football coach.

Former Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander, last year, expressed her own desire to coach in the AFL.

“One of my goals is to become the first female coach of an AFL men’s team. It might take me another 10 years, I don’t know.”

Mark Brayshaw said the experience of hearing from Lisa showed him that a woman could coach an AFL men’s side.

“The first time I heard from her it became apparent that if you’re a really good coach, you’re a really good coach full stop. So, I’ve got no doubt that down the track, there won’t be any reason why there can’t be a lady coach.”

There is a regular focus on the women who are making small inroads into professional and high-performance sports around the world. This is also a good thing – it shows that women can successfully coach technically, tactically, etc at the highest level. These coaches are demonstrating excellence and there is a growing belief that women can coach professional male athletes and teams.

There should then be no doubt they can coach women and women’s teams at any level. It is about “taking the gender out of ability.”

“You must have played at the highest level to be an acceptable (effective) coach.”

There is a strongly held belief that If you haven’t played at the highest level of the sport, you cannot coach (even if you have done so in another sport). This is a particularly strong sentiment in Australian sport, for example in the AFL, where most head coaches and around 75% of all coaches have been former players at the top level (AFL Coaches Association).

Previous Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer said,

“AIS statistics show 93 per cent of elite coaches in the Australian system progressed from a background as an athlete, so we know that is a key pathway for coaches. But female athletes only account for three per cent of that conversion figure and we need to know why.”

Regarding the AFLW, Head of Women’s Football, Nicole Livingston said,

“We need the next generation coming through like Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall and Alisha Eva to see change. Nobody can question their football pedigree because they’ve played at the highest level.”

The recent appointment of Stacey Marinkovich as the Australian Diamonds Netball Coach was considered a surprise choice. Netball commentators and former players expressed reservations about a trifecta of factors: her lack of international playing experience, along with her relative youth, and her ability to juggle her child with the role.

This paradigm is a solid barrier to coaches of any gender. However, there are many successful coaches at different levels, including in the premier competitions all over the world, who have demonstrated it should not be a disqualifier. Coaches such as Lisa Alexander, Bill Belichick, Chris Fagan, Valorie Kondos, and José Mourinho come to mind. And this week’s Stanley Cup winning coach Jon Cooper was a college Lacrosse player, who started out as an Ice Hockey coach at his local high school. Passion and insatiable curiosity seem to be greater keys to success, than having played at the highest professional level.

The International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) model of coaching knowledge lists three areas: Professional Knowledge, Interpersonal Knowledge, and Intrapersonal Knowledge – all three areas are critical for success.

THE WAY AHEAD – MAKING IT HAPPEN

There are some clear actions that can be taken to improve the environment and create opportunities for growth in women coaching at all levels.

Leanne Norman from Leeds Beckett University proposed four basic areas for action:

  • Role modelling and mentoring
  • Greater number and quality of coaching opportunities
  • Creation of supportive networks
  • Positive Discrimination

Among other things, these four major areas are generally shared by researchers and advocates for women coaches.

Some positive practical actions (particularly in the Australian Context)

Role Modelling (and visibility)

Any discussion about lack of diversity in any endeavour usually includes the line “You can’t be what you can’t see” (Marian Wright Edelman in the film Miss Representation). This is also the lament in many articles about female coaches.

This is largely true; however, someone has to be the first – and the tenth, 100th, 1,000th 10,000th and so on. So let’s celebrate those who have been first and the hard work and excellence required to get there, give them the support needed to succeed in the long run, and provide opportunities for all who wish to follow in their footprints.

There is no doubt that having positive women role models presents coaching as valued, worthwhile and accessible. It also provides inspiration and motivation to consider coaching. French Rugby’s national women’s coach, Annick Hayraud, is proof for other women that coaching is a legitimate career. Visibility is crucial – “You CAN be what you CAN see”.

Katie Sowers, an assistant coach at the San Francisco 49ers and the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl, told Female Coaching Network:

“I always knew I wanted to coach, but I didn’t know I could coach in the NFL until I saw Becky Hammon become a coach in the NBA.”

There have been numerous successful female coaches at women’s national team and national league level in Australia (e.g. Lisa Alexander, Sandie Brondello, Michelle Cowan, Heather Garriock, Bec Goddard, Carrie Graf, Lisa Keightley, Peta Searle, Jan Stirling, Jenny Williams, and others). The next step is to accelerate the growth and extend it more broadly at community level. Netball, essentially a women’s sport at the highest level, with a couple of exceptions, has always had women as coaches.

If it can develop to the point where substantial groups of women are coming through the coaching pathways together, it will start to seem very normal.

Mentoring/Sponsoring

It is well recognised that having a good mentor, critical friend, or personal learning coach, is a key part of progressing in coaching, and most modern coach development programs include mentoring as an essential component. The best programs go beyond that and provide sponsoring as well.

While a mentor advises a mentee or protégé, a sponsor is someone from a position of influence who can actively advocate for the coach and assist in developing their career. Essentially, they can be a “pathway maker”. Sponsors can become champions of change for the coach they are sponsoring. They get a rich understanding of how knowledgeable, passionate and skilled their protégé female coach is and they can become a positive voice of change in their sport.

Elizabeth McDaid on leadersedge.com says:

“Mentors suggest ways to expand the mentee’s network. Sponsors give protégés their active network connections and make new connections for them. Sponsors are personally vested in the upward movement and professional development of their protégé. They champion their protégé’s visibility.”

This level of one-on-one support is effective, even essential, in getting coaches through some of the challenges along the pathway to high performance coaching.

St Kilda AFLW coach Peta Searle, in discussing the role of former Geelong and Adelaide AFL Coach, and current Port Melbourne VFL coach Gary Ayres on her own development, said,

“He gave credibility to the fact that I’d actually coached five premierships in a row with the Darebin women’s team. He was able to take gender out of my ability and created an environment within his club that enabled someone like me to come in and grow.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to see more female referees joining the league and teams hiring female coaches, too.

“The goal is that going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league. The same for coaches, by the way. We have a program there too. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.”

Number and Quality of Opportunities

The way to become good at something is by doing it. When I first moved to the AIS in the mid-1980s and had the opportunity to interact with and observe the Institute’s full time high performance coaches (men and women) in action, the first thing that stood out to me was the “sharp edge” they had to their coaching behaviours. I believe that coaching fulltime, doing it day-in, day-out, with high stakes competition as the measure of effectiveness, gave these coaches this sharp edge. You get good at something by doing it in a high-performance environment. You get good at coaching by actively coaching and continually testing yourself and learning from the experience. Ensuring good learning is dependent on your ability to debrief, and the support of a mentor and network is important in optimising this.

Developing female coaches need greater opportunities to practise their art at a higher level to gain experience. The earlier these opportunities begin the better, and they can be introduced while athletes/players are still competing. Participating in coach development activities also tends to make them better players.

There is now a growing range of programs around the world providing opportunities for women coaches to develop, gain experience and be included in high-performance programs. Examples include:

Women’s Coaching Internship Programme (WCIP) – Commonwealth Games Federation

Rugby World Cup 2021 Coaching Internship Programme – World Rugby/IOC

NextGEN Accelerated Coaching Program 2020-2022 – Gymnastics Australia

AFLW Coaching Pathway Scholarship – AFL Coaches Association

Collingwood Football Club Coaching Pathway Scholarships

High Performance Sport Breakthrough Coaching Programme for Women – HPSNZ

The NCAA Women Coaches Academy – WeCoach-NCAA

Women into High Performance Programme – UK Coaching

The Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund and SheChampions Mentorship Program – US Soccer

The main principles and content in these programs can be scaled in various ways to assist in developing women as coaches at any level.

Supportive Networks

Strong, positive networks can provide encouraging environments in which female coaches can learn and prosper. They are important for improving self-efficacy and building confidence as coaches. Sharing ideas around coaching problems, practice methods and other coaching issues can provide very good professional development for emerging coaches.

Who looks after the kids? What do clubs and organisations allow and provide to assist women coaches to balance up the roles of coaching and family responsibilities? Solving the family issue, including the stereotypical perceptions of what this should be, is a critical one. Society is starting to make inroads here, and this may have been accelerated by the COVID crisis. A major focus in this area has the potential to free up some of the underlying anxiety about the demands of coaching.

Purposeful Change

Analysis of progress so far suggests it is unlikely that the overall situation will change significantly without deliberate action to create opportunities. Recent reports into business practices have demonstrated that those companies with gender equal senior leadership do better than those dominated by either male or female senior managers.

Sam Mostyn, whose work I saw first-hand while she was an AFL Commissioner, has been a non-executive director in a range of business and other agencies. In a recent interview with Kurt Fearnley on his show One Plus One, Sam was adamant that women have an equal right to lead.

“Get us around the table and give us a go. Get us into positions of power and authority”.

She said such change would not happen by chance – wishing, hoping and praying will not do it. It requires purposeful change.

“You need a purposeful set of appointments and processes.”

There is also a responsibility in the roles in ensuring a continuation and that the first won’t be the last. Strategically National Sporting Organisations and State Sporting Associations have to set targets for change.

Having been involved in hiring people in many different areas during my time in sport administration, I found there are usually several candidates who are capable of doing any specific job well. Final hiring decisions are often made between good candidates on marginal grounds. If there are women candidates who are equally as good as others, why not increase the diversity in your appointments. Whoever is appointed, ensure that the right level of mentoring/coaching, and support is in place to maximise the chances of success.

Sophia Jowett, Professor of Psychology at Loughborough University, regularly writes about the psychology of coach-athlete relationships and the state of coaching. In a blog on commumity.ukcoaching.org Professor Jowett stated that:

“Support from sport authorities is mission critical to address gender imbalance in coaching. It would be highly valued, if sport authorities make a strategic commitment to provide access and opportunities to female coaches. Providing access and opportunities to talented female coaches into high performance coaching – coaches who have the capacity to make a significant and positive difference in the lives of our athletes, will enrich the landscape of sport and coaching.”

A simple example would be for the professional football codes to mandate that at least one of the frontline assistant coaches in each women’s team was a woman, and each club had at least one female “apprentice” or “scholarship” coach embedded with the team.

Former Matildas’ Vice-captain, Moya Dodd, who also served on the FFA and FIFA boards, commenting on the appointment of the Matildas new coach, Tony Gustavsson, wrote:

“If Gustavsson can facilitate a flourishing pipeline of women coaches to serve the game’s future alongside men, he will give the Matildas a World Cup-winning chance not just as players in 2023, but also as coaches for many tournaments to come.”

Gustavsson, who is from Sweden, where a woman led Sweden’s women’s team to a World Cup final, honed his skills with the US National Women’s Team under the guidance of Pia Sundhage and Jill Ellis, as they won on the world’s biggest stages.

Resources

In 2020 there are many great resources available to assist coaches to forge their path into coaching. There are other resources for clubs, associations and other organisations enabling them to open up and diversify their pathways to provide opportunities and support for far greater numbers of female coaches. These include:

Game ON: Women can coach. Project and toolkit – Tucker Centre, University of Minnesota

Women Coaching Rugby Toolkit – World Rugby (This is a very comprehensive resource for organisations – covers all areas of discussion)

Female Coaching Development Association Toolkit – Basketball Victoria

Female Coach Mentorship Model – Coaching Association of Canada

The Female Coaching Network

Modern coaching is the subject of growing levels of research around the world, and the role of the coach in different contexts is much better understood. Proven methods of coach development are well known in the current era and should apply equally for coaches regardless of gender (International Council for Coaching Excellence – ICCE).

Grass roots action

There are many actions which can be taken at grass roots level to bolster the numbers of women coaches in the community.

Monash University researcher, co-founder of the Women’s Coaching Association and committed community coach Jules Hay, is an active and passionate advocate for diversity in sport. She has published a comprehensive list of 26 strategies to increase the number of female coaches in Australian football on LinkedIn. These strategies reflect many of the issues and actions discussed in this article and could be applied to most sports. They are aimed at providing football clubs and leagues with strategies, they can implement to increase and sustain the number of female coaches.

If you want to coach

if you want to coach what can you do to optimise your chances of success?

  • Give it a go, get started – find somewhere to coach (club, school, physical activity group)
  • Work hard at developing positive relationships with your athletes, other coaches and organisational staff
  • Undertake (at least the basic) coach education courses
  • Find out if your club has someone responsible for assisting, supporting, or developing their coaches – ensure you engage with them
  • Find yourself a suitable coaching mentor
  • Be a constant learner (avidly curious) – there are many resources available which can help you, particularly on-line (see some of the links in this article)
  • Check whether there are other coaches in your area who have formed a network who support each other
  • Create your network who can support you in your coaching endeavours – immediate and extended family, friends, community programs, etc
  • Ignore the stereotypes and be confident in what you CAN do

The corollary for clubs, leagues, associations, and other umbrella groups, is to ensure all these types of opportunities and support systems are available to your coaches.

Implementation

It is the responsibility of sporting organisations around the world, at all levels, to develop the potentially vast, and currently underutilised, talent pool of women in coaching. There is strong support for this, and while it will not be quick or easy, it can be done by taking purposeful action producing generational and cultural change.

Ideas expressed in this article can be addressed and strategies implemented so sport can improve the diversity and balance in coaching. This includes:

  • Creating similar pathways for men and boys, and women and girls in playing and coaching
  • Ensuring greater inclusion of women in coaching – may require special pathways or assistance for women coaches
  • Ensuring all the appropriate support systems are in place to optimise the outcomes
  • Bringing substantial groups of women coaches through the pathways together
  • Ignoring the stereotypes and current cultural norms around women in coaching and other key roles in sport
  • Defining and reinforcing the term coach as a non-gendered, through generational and cultural change – so those making coach appointments are focused on ability rather than gender
  • Influencing (usually) male decision makers
  • Maintaining a long term (generational) focus on developing women in coaching.

As we come out of the restrictions into the COVID normal world, perhaps it is time to really go “where others won’t” * to further enhance the delivery and value of sport in our communities.

(*with acknowledgement to Cody Royle).

Lawrie Woodman – is a physical educator and coach developer who worked as a sport professional for almost forty years, including at the Australian Coaching Council, the Australian Sports Commission, the AIS, Athletics Australia and the Australian Football League, and has observed coaching and coach development up close at all levels during that time.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

All direct quotes in this article have been sourced from publicly available, previously published material.

References


“Women in Sport Background statistics – IOC”
“Developing Women Coaches: Moving Forward”
“Number of Women Coaching in College Has Plummeted in Title IX Era – New York Times”
“Percentage of Female NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches by Conference”
“Here’s Why Women’s Teams Are Coached by Men”
“More money may be pouring into women’s sport, but there’s still a dearth of female coaches”
“The Importance of Women in Coaching with Dr. Nicole LaVoi”“Why Women Coaches Matter”
“Peta Searle is a premiership winner, but it took a man for her to be able to prove herself as a coach”
“An Open Letter About Female Coaches”
“Australian Open: How Amelie Mauresmo helped Lucas Pouille rediscover his love of tennis”
“The gender of a coach shouldn’t be important” “Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander dreams of becoming the first female coach of a men’s AFL team”
“Woman could coach AFL, says Brayshaw.”
“Australian Sports Commission identifies need for more female coaches”
“New Diamonds coach a ‘surprise’ choice, say netball greats”
“Annick Hayraud: ‘It is inevitable that women will coach men’s rugby’”
“Lost leaders: Women’s sport is growing but where are the female coaches?”
“Developing female coaches: Strategies from women themselves”
“Mentor vs. Sponsor”
“NBA commissioner Silver wants more female refs, coaches”
“Sports Federations leading the way to Increase percentage of female coaches and technical officials”
“Future Women Commonwealth coaching talent to participate in first-ever mentor programme at Gold Coast 2018”
“World rugby announces innovative rugby world cup 2021 coaching internship programme”
“NextGEN Accelerated Coaching Program 2020-2022”
AFL Women’s Coaching Crusade”
“Collingwood football club coaching pathway scholarships”
“New Zealand Women in High Performance Sport Project”
“NCAA Women Coaches Academy”
“Top women coaches selected for UK high-performance programme”
“U.S. Soccer announces the Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund and the Shechampions Mentorship Program to support women in coaching”
“Sam Mostyn on becoming the first female AFL commissioner, receiving hate mail and why quotas work”
“Tackling Stereotypes and Promoting Diversity in Coaching”
“All hail Matildas’ new coach, but may he create a pipeline of female successors”
“Game ON: Women Can Coach”
“Women Coaching Rugby Toolkit”
“Female Coaching Development Association Toolkit – Basketball Victoria”
The Female Coaching Network
“Women in Coaching – Coaching Association of Canada”
Canadian Journal for Women in Coaching
WeCoach
International Council for Coaching Excellence
Women’s Coaching Association

Jules Hay on LinkedIn “26 Strategies to Increase the number of Female Coaches in Football (AFL)”
Jules Hay on LinkedIn “Increasing the number of female football coaches: is the fight worth it?

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