Wednesday, a student group om Molde campus presented a poster about underrepresentation of female coaches in professional sports. Above illustration is a detail from the poster.

Female coaches: Bearing the burden of doubt

Why female coaches are underrepresented in professional sports.

By DILARA VALIYEVA and ANIKA SIMM, Sport Management MSc students

Sport is one of the most powerful and visible social institutions around the globe. Professional sport and coaches are interdependent concepts, which influence each other and create their own environment. Representation of women coaches, their experience and attitude have been documented and analyzed for over forty years.

Nowadays, with the increase of popularity in women sports, there is also an increased interest referring to gender and coaching. Consequently, the rise of studies pertaining to coaching science and coach education in relation with gender can be observed, but at the same time the importance of women in coaching is mostly overlooked or minimized.

The poster, including author names, abstract, conclusion and references.
The poster, including author names, abstract, conclusion and references.

View poster in PDF-format.

On this basis, a review about the reasons of the underrepresentation of female coaches in professional sport was conducted. It resulted in the following findings:

  • The most discussed and current issue is masculinity, which is not only represented in the sport industry, but also in everyday life.
  • Gender stereotypes as well as homophobia are the next constraints for women on their way to be professional coaches. Successful and well-educated females are still labeled as lesbians and need to fight for being accepted in the male dominated world of sport.
  • Women assume that by hiring a female they will give an excuse to the male stakeholders if they fail, and that a woman is destined to fail in that position because males will not accept having a female in charge.
  • Women that are equally or more qualified than men experience that they do not get the same opportunities in terms of coaching at higher levels or advancing in their careers.
  • The absence of women in coaching or leadership positions is a barrier for women who want to be coaches. The deficiency of female role models causes women to choose to explore other careers.
  • Women experience difficulties being accepted among male coaches, and therefore women coaches struggle to establish networks in the field.
  • Female coaches find it more difficult to balance work and personal life, since they feel to have more responsibilities compared to men when it comes to parenting and duties related to the home. In addition to duties concerning family, a remarkable amount of time and effort is required to be an effective coach. This makes it hard for women to develop their coaching career.

Overall, women are still bearing the burden of doubt because of their gender.