By Ken Reed

Title IX’s 40th anniversary was celebrated earlier this summer. The landmark law has been a godsend for females in terms of participation in athletics, but the impact for female coaches and administrators has been less than stellar.

Sports participation numbers for girls and women were extremely low in 1972, at both the college and high school levels. Those numbers have risen dramatically, although they still fall short of their male counterparts. In the recently completed London Olympics, Team USA included more females than males for the first time.

However, the percentage of women coaching female teams has dropped from 90 percent in 1972 to 43 percent today. According to Megan Greenwell in a recent article, the explanation is pretty straightforward.

“By legitimizing women’s sports, Title IX bestowed a new level of respect — and significantly higher salaries — on college coaching jobs, transforming them from passion projects for the most dedicated women’s sports advocates to serious career paths,” wrote Greenwell. As soon as the salaries rose, men interested in coaching pounced on the new opportunities and male athletic directors obliged by hiring them.

A new group was formed last year, the Alliance of Women Coaches, a professional development group for female coaches at all levels. This group is working to change the trend toward males in women’s sports leadership positions. Judy Sweet, one of the founders of the new alliance, and a former athletic director at the University of California at San Diego, believes the challenge will be extremely difficult.

“It requires breaking this cycle of male university presidents hiring male board members hiring male athletic directors hiring male coaches,” says Sweet.

Nevertheless, it’s a challenge worth embracing so that athletically-inclined young women can see that there’s a potential career available in the world of sports — just as their male peers do today.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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