Men Coaching Women

December 09, 2008
Michele Milden (Arlington Branch President

(l to r): (back) Michele Milden, Arlington Branch President; Dianne Blais, AAUW VA Co-President; Kristen Galles; Kathryn Braeman, AAUW member who coordinated the luncheon (front) Holly Kearl, LAF Program Manager; Jill Birdwhistell, Chief of Strategic Advancement

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the AAUW Arlington (VA) Branch’s Legal Advocacy Fund Holiday Luncheon. Not only did I have a great time meeting AAUW members I primarily communicate with by e-mail and phone, but along with everyone in attendance, I had the opportunity to learn about the continuing need for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in athletics from speaker Kristen Galles of Equity Legal. She is an AAUW member and represents the plaintiffs in one of the LAF-supported sex discrimination cases, Mansourian, et al. v. Regents of the University of California, et al., a Title IX case centered on alleged discrimination experienced by female members of the university’s wrestling team.

Kristen Galles of Equity Legal

Kristen Galles of Equity Legal

In her talk, Kristen presented a brief history of Title IX and discussed the continued relevancy of Title IX in college athletics. Title IX has made an enormous positive difference in women’s sports: two years before the enactment of Title IX in 1970, there were only 2.5 women’s teams per school, but as of 2006, there are 8.45 teams per school. However, unsurprisingly, there are still more men’s sports teams than women’s at institutions nationwide.

I was surprised to learn about the low percentage of female coaches. In the 1970s, over 90 percent of the women’s teams were coached by women, but now just over 40 percent of women’s teams are headed by female coaches (and only 17.7 percent of women’s and men’s teams combined). In 1972, more than 90 percent of women’s programs were administrated by a female athletic director, but today only 18.6 percent of athletic directors of women’s programs are women. This strikes me as ironic, since there must be a large pool of qualified former women college athletes to choose from, thanks to Title IX.

I ran cross country at college, and the coaches of the women’s and men’s teams were men. The women’s coach was new, and now I wonder if my university even tried to find a woman to coach the team.

While some of the statistics Kristen shared were disappointing, I think all of us at the luncheon were glad to see that there are smart, passionate lawyers like her fighting to break down barriers on campus for both female students and coaches. What do you think we can do to help get more women’s sports teams and coaches at colleges and universities?

By:   |   December 09, 2008

4 Comments

  1. Kathleen says:

    I am supposing that one of the reasons for more men now coaching women’s teams has to do with the work that was done to raise the salaries of women coaches — thus becoming more attractive for men applying for the jobs and having the old boys network to draw upon. At the same time, most schools that started out with separate athletic directors for women’s and men’s departments were consolidated — for efficiency, no doubt — and the director that was let go generally had less seniority, most often the woman.

    On the reverse side, at the time my daughter coached a men’s soccer team (Div.III, 1998 – 2005) she was one of only 3 women coaching men’s team in the country. There has been no surge in that number since then either.

    What can be done? Go to the top and get yourself or other like-minded women onto the boards of the colleges and universities and be an activist within. Sports are often of more concern to the trustees because it is a major fundraising hook, so they look at the details. Then, as with any other advocacy strategy, start the lobbying!

  2. Carrie in KS says:

    It would be interesting to see if Condoleezza Rice gets into sports management/leadership at the close of the Bush Administration. Even if it is for a sport like football, she could really push open the locker room door for other women in sports leadership.

  3. Sylvia says:

    I have always been involved in both boys and girls sports as a coach. Recently I went to a team composed of 4 year old boy and girls soccer players. My daughter was the coach. Most of the other teams were coached by men (still…even at this level). And I realized that things were never going to change unless more women get involved on all levels–coaching, the organizational structure, and other official duties.

    Our problem as women is that we wait or think that someone else should do all this. It takes too much of our time because we work or have other interests.

    The situation won’t change unless it changes on all levels.

  4. […] Via AAUW Dialog, which noted: …Title IX has made an enormous positive difference in women’s sports: two years before the enactment of Title IX in 1970, there were only 2.5 women’s teams per school, but as of 2006, there are 8.45 teams per school. However, unsurprisingly, there are still more men’s sports teams than women’s at institutions nationwide. […]

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