By WELCH SUGGS
© Chronicle of Higher Education Bulletin
Tuesday, May 2, 2000
There has never been a better time to be a female athlete in college
sports, but women apparently believe that there has never been a worse time
to be a coach. According to a new study, fewer women, on a percentage
basis, are coaching women's teams now than at any point in the past 23
Women represent only 45.6 percent of the coaches of women's teams
in the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 2000, according to the
latest edition of a longitudinal study by R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean
Carpenter. The two former professors of physical education, who recently
retired from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, have
studied trends in women's sports since 1977.
By comparison, women made up
58 percent of coaches in 1978 and 47.4 percent in 1998, according to the
study. Women represent less than 2 percent of the coaches of men's teams
this year, as has been the case throughout the study's history. On the
other hand, there are more women's teams in the N.C.A.A. than ever before.
The study found that N.C.A.A. members now offer an average of 8.14 women's
teams, including an average of 8.87 at Division I institutions, 6.62 at
Division II institutions, and 8.45 at Division III institutions. In
1977-78, colleges fielded an average of only 5.61 teams for women. The
study did not include numbers for men's teams.
The decline in the
percentage of female coaches is troubling, Ms. Carpenter said, because
young women need role models in leadership positions. "Athletics is such
an intense part of an athlete's life that when role models appear in
context, they can have quite a positive effect," Ms. Carpenter said. "It's
also disturbing because there's not any concomitant increase in the
representation of women in men's programs." Furthermore, athletics
directors are not hiring very many female coaches now.
The study found that
there have been 534 head-coaching jobs created for women's teams since
1998, and that 80 percent of those openings have been filled by men.
However, athletics directors say they are not entirely to blame for not
hiring women. Often, when they advertise for a women's coaching position,
they point out, few if any women apply. According to Ms. Carpenter, part of
the reason is that women coming out of college have far more career choices
now than in the 1970's. "In the 70's, women's opportunities to work
outside the home were teaching and nursing," she said. "Now, the world of
employment opportunities is much more open to women, so women are making
choices based on a bigger menu. I think we need to work harder for children
to see coaching as a viable employment opportunity."
The number of female
athletics administrators has nearly doubled since 1988, from 528 to 998.
However, women still represent only 34 percent of all athletics
administrators at N.C.A.A. institutions, up from 29 percent in 1988. Ms.
Carpenter said there were more female university presidents in Division I-A
than female athletics directors. Only 9.5 percent of full-time
sports-information directors are women, and 25.5 percent of full-time
athletics trainers are women.
For athletes, opportunities continue to
grow, especially in Division III. The study found that 205 women's teams
were added from 1998 to 2000, more than half of them at Division III
institutions, which do not offer athletics scholarships. Basketball,
volleyball, tennis, cross country, and soccer were the five most popular
sports. This year's study includes data from 75 percent of the N.C.A.A.'s
member institutions, Ms. Carpenter said.