By Andy Steiner
Since the landmark legislation Title IX was enacted more than 40 years ago, women’s participation in intercollegiate sports has increased significantly, with nearly half of all current collegiate student athletes women. The same can’t be said of their head coaches.
“Head Coaches of Women’s Collegiate Teams,” a new report by the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, documents women’s underrepresentation in head coaching positions for women’s teams at select NCAA Division 1 institutions. The Tucker Center released the report in observance of its 20th anniversary. It follows an earlier report that documented the number of collegiate women coaches overall.
Tucker Center associate director and alumna Nicole LaVoi (M.A ’95, Ph.D. ’02) and her team of researchers analyzed 76 institutions, including the University of Minnesota, and graded each university. The University of Cincinnati received an A grade and ranked highest, with 80 percent of women’s teams coached by women. Oklahoma State University ranked lowest, with 12.5 percent. The University of Minnesota, with 53 percent, received a C, the 12th-best ranking overall. Penn State was the highest–ranking Big Ten school, receiving a B with 60 percent.
LaVoi says it is important for young women to have close contact with female role models. For female student athletes, coaches often fill that role. “We’re not saying that having a coaching staff that’s 100 percent female is the goal,” LaVoi says, “but we certainly want more than what we’re currently at.”