Read my monthly blog post “Supports for Female Coaches II: Stay in the Game Early” for the Women in Coaching blog by clicking here.
If you missed “Supports for Female Coaches Part I” click here.
Read my monthly blog post “Supports for Female Coaches II: Stay in the Game Early” for the Women in Coaching blog by clicking here.
If you missed “Supports for Female Coaches Part I” click here.
March Madness takes on a whole new meaning when you watch this Outside the Lines video about the Rutgers head men’s basketball coach, Mike Rice. I find this video hard to watch and appalling. What is more appalling is that Rice has not been fired for his abusive behavior and sexist and homophobic language (update 4/3/2013 Rice has been fired). This type of old school coaching behavior should be just that…Old School.
Coaches have the responsibility to treat their athletes with respect and care, as human beings, not just as cogs in the performance machine. I think you can learn a lot about a coach by watching him/her on the sidelines and by listening to what he/she says.
What is the demeanor of the coach? How do they act under pressure in the most contested moments? How do they act when they are winning versus losing? Are their athletes paying attention in the huddle and looking engaged? Do the athletes look like they are listening to the coach intently or blowing him/her off with disregard? What is the body language and facial expressions of the athletes and of the coach? How are the assistant coaches involved in the game? How does the head coach treat the assistant coaches? How does the coach treat the officials? How does the coach react to mistakes by athletes? How does the coach explain losses and wins? Do the athletes embrace the coach after wins and seek him/her out after losses?
On the contrary, last night I watched the Cal Bears Women’s Basketball Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb, coach her team to their first-ever NCAA Final Four last night with grace. I was impressed by this young coach. She didn’t yell or act abusively toward athletes, officials or assistants. She coached. Her Google Image Search tells a very different picture of teaching, calmness under pressure, care, fun, enjoyment, pride…what coaching should look like.
I hope that the New School and face of coaching begins to look much more like Gottlieb and others like her, and that taxpayers who pay the HIGH salaries of coaches like Rice become outraged and less tolerant of abusive behavior toward young people.
To see my monthly blog post for the Women in Coaching blog pertaining to the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport Fall Distinguished Lecture click here.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Currently I’m out in Denver for the NCAA Women Coaches Academy (run by the Alliance of Women Coaches) and in the next room is the NCAA/NACWAA Institute for Administrative Advancement where in both rooms the current and future generation of coaches and athletic administrators are being empowered. Seeing this group of women is inspiring and motivates me to continue the work I do to help them in part to succeed and stay in sport careers. Unfortunately they need a lot of support to do so.
As I was getting ready this morning I caught part of the ESPN Outside the Lines piece on “Coaching Conundrum” as to why there is a scarcity of female coaches. The ESPN crew had been out in Atlanta filming at the Alliance of Women Coaches annual Huddle in last May. While the ESPN piece is great for raising awareness about the scarcity of female coaches, it only scratched the surface of this complex question. An espnW piece on “The Glass Wall” is a much more in depth treatment female coaches.
The barriers for female coaches reside at four levels.
1. Individual (perception of lack of competence or confidence, choose not to coach, perception of time commitment to fulfill role)
2. Interpersonal (family & domestic commitments, lack of support from administration, negative recruiting from colleagues)
3. Organizational (lack of opportunity for professional development, lack of family-friendly policies, limited opportunities for advancement, lack of female role models in positions of power)
4. Societal-Cultural. This is the level that rarely gets discussed, is the hardest to change, and has to do with stereotypes of women, gender and leadership. The traits of effective leadership we mostly highly value in US society align with a male/masculine leadership style. If women don’t adopt or conform to this style (firm, authoritarian, assertive, loud, in control, competitive) they are perceived to be incompetent and weak. If they do adopt this style, the are often labeled a bitch because she is not conforming to a stereotypical female leadership style (caring, quiet, nurturing, passive, collaborative). The key here is that the association with gender and leadership is constructed and arbitrary, but has a dramatic effect on the careers of female coaches. If those in positions of power are mostly men (and they are!) and they are not aware of their own uncritical acceptance of leadership beliefs, and largely believe that male coaches are more competent than females…this will result in most likely a male being hired into the position. The result?–The current structure of sport and male power does not get challenged and females remain marginalized and in the minority, and because men continue to dominant the sport landscape and occupy the most important positions, society at large continues to believe that men are inherently more competent to coach.
Effective leadership is not gendered. Being competent, knowledgeable, facilitating optimal performance, treating people with care and respect, being organized, communicating well, are not inherent to males or females.
Female coaches need a voice in the sport landscape that is dominated by men. Be part of the critical mass and join the Alliance of Women Coaches.
Look for a full length article I wrote with a graduate student on this topic coming out in July 2012 in the inaugural issue of Sports Coaching Review titled “Barriers and support for female coaches: An ecological model.”
In short, IBM is a long time sponsor of The Masters golf tournament, held at Augusta National Golf Club which bans women from membership. Traditionally, the CEO of IBM dons the champion “green jacket” and is given a club membership. Not this year. Instead of changing their rules to allow Rometty a green jacket and membership, the men in power at Augusta chose to continue their “tradition” of discrimination. In addition, IBM remained silent.
Dr. Martha Burk wrote a great column in Women’s e-News titled “To IBM: Women Saw That” about why this matters. She writes, “Much of the argument centered on whether the club had the “right to remain private” (translate “engage in discrimination at will”).”
1. This is not about golf, it is about power relationships.
2. IBM’s silence endorses the gender discrimination against their female CEO
Ironically as I write this blog I’m listening to Alice Eagly, PhD (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) co-author of Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders on NPR and President Obama is holding the White House Forum on Women in the Economy.
Even more ironic is the headline of a Washington Times story titled “The Masters 2012: IBM’s Virginia Rometty overshadows Tiger Woods” as if to suggest it is incredulous that a female could and IS taking the spot light away from a male.
Given the Saudi’s just announced they would send ZERO females to the summer London 2012 Olympics, which is a rule violation of the IOC, we shall see if the IOC & Jacques Rogge (himself not a picture of advocating for gender equality) bans Saudi Arabia from the games. Any bets?
On the first Monday of every month, I write for the Women in Coaching blog.
You can see my latest post in this series “Explaining the Scarcity of Female Coaches: Barriers Part 2” if you CLICK HERE.
To read Part 1 CLICK HERE.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, landmark federal legislation which dramatically increased sport participation opportunities for females in educational contexts. We have many reasons to celebrate this day, and part of that celebration is learning from the pioneering women who have been instrumental in fighting for implementation and preservation of this important law. I want to share with you some of their wisdom.
Kane & Baker’s words highlight the progress that has been made, but gender equality in sports is still not a reality. Drs. Vivian Acosta and Jean Carpenter just released their 35 year update of the Women in Intercollegiate Sport report, in which they detailed that although 100 more female coaches of womenʼs teams are employed than in 2010, the total % of women coaching female athletes barely increased as is currently at 42.9% (in 2010 is was 42.6%).
Female boxers are fighting The International Amateur Boxing Association officials who are discussing whether women fighters should be urged to wear skirts in the ring at the 2012 Games. Many high level organizations around the globe rallied to write a position statement denouncing this rule. It reads:
This position is in line with our organizations’ overall mission of empowering women and advancing sport with the aim of catalyzing a sustainable sporting culture that enables and values the full involvement of women in every aspect of sport. We maintain that uniform guidelines for women athletes should not detract from respect for their dignity and professionalism, nor should they hinder athletic performance. Limiting women’s competition attire to skirts for the sake of accentuating gender or sexuality would detract focus from the athletic abilities and skills of these individuals and mark a step backwards for the sport of boxing and the sport movement as a whole. Women should be actively involved in decisions concerning changes in uniform rules, and these changes should take into consideration issues of gender equality and inclusiveness.
Today we should join together to celebrate advancements, but remain committed to fighting for social justice and gender equality for girls and women in sport around the globe. The winds of change prevail, but the direction it blows is largely up to us.
Gloria Steinem in a recent lecture for the Clayman Institute of Gender Research at Stanford invited everyone in the audience to do something outrageous for the cause of social justice. My invitation and challenge to you is to do ONE THING in the next calendar year that creates change for girls and women in sport contexts. Steinem closed her lecture by stating: “We must not hold our fingers to the wind. We must be the wind”
To read all the blogs in the 2012 National Women’s Law Center #NGWSD blog carnival, click HERE.
The last week was a particularly terrible week in terms of egregious coach behavior coming into public light. I am not going to weigh in on the Penn State/Paterno/Sandusky/He Said-He Said/Student Riots Sex Abuse scandal. Others have written on this topic. My favorite pieces (here and here) of the many out there on this topic are by Dave Zirin, who writes for The Nation. He summarizes The Big Problematic Picture of “the billion-dollar logic of big-time college football”.
What may have been lost in the media frenzy over the aforementioned was the egregious behavior of another football coach. A Wyoming high school football coach resigned after he made his players fill out a “Hurt Feelings Survey” (see picture). What would possess a coach of boys to conceive, construct and deliver such a survey is baffling to many. However, it isn’t all that mysterious when placed in the big picture context of how football is the epitome of a masculinity breeding ground and apprenticeship for teaching boys how to be men.
This survey teaches boys exactly what is expected of (real) men: don’t be weak, don’t have feelings, don’t show weakness, don’t tattle on other boys and men (i.e., perpetuate the culture of silence if you are harmed or abused, or see harm being done to others…sound familiar?), don’t be anything but a masculine heterosexual, and don’t turn to others for support or seek comfort when you are hurt (especially from a female like your mother who will surely feminize you even more!…tough it out by yourself and be a rugged individual). This survey teaches boys that being a real man is in opposition to: boyhood and childish behaviors, girls and women and all things feminine, nurturing forms of masculinity (like those needed by fathers and real partners), and gay men.
While the coach who constructed this survey was dumb enough to actually put this all on paper, don’t for a second think other coaches don’t “teach” these lessons to boys every day, in every sport, in every state. Until “lessons” like these are eradicated in youth and interscholastic sports through awareness, coach education and public outcry, the problems like those we have all hard about this week will unfortunately persist.
Since I returned from the espnW Summit a month or so ago, coupled with the WNBA Champions Minnesota Lynx win and the media treatment of their season, the conference the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport just hosted about creating change, the sport sociology conference (NASSS) which followed, and the breaking news of the Sundusky/Penn State/Paterno/Football scandal….I have a LOT of thoughts I’m going to try and put together coherently.
We are coming upon the 40 year anniversary of Title IX in 2012, landmark federal legislation which dramatically increased participation opportunities for female athletes in educational settings. Roughly 40% of all female sport participants at the high school and collegiate levels are female, yet female athletes receive only 2-4% of all sport media coverage and when they do they are often sexualized and portrayed in ways that minimize athletic talent, females are under-represented at all levels of sport in all positions of power, rampant homophobia exists in most sport climates which affects the sporting experiences of athletes and coaches regardless of sexual orientation, and in all sport settings boys and men outnumber girls and women.
How it is that after 40 years of participation progress for females males are the majority of participants, that females are covered LESS often in the media and are LESS often head coaches and athletic administrators than in previous decades?
As espnW is trying to find its way in marketing and drawing in female fans of sport, at the summit there was much discussion about a “new model” of sport for girls and women and not just replicating the dominant “male model” of sport which keynote presenter and former NFL player Don McPherson said “is broken.” Female athletes and those who run women’s sport do not have to aspire or replicate the male model. Some seem to forget or never knew that a different models in collegiate athletics did exist (i.e, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, AIAW, Division for Girls’ and Women’s Sports, Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, CIAW). For the most part these groups were student-athlete focused, looked out for the interest of the female athletes first, and were not concerned with the big time and growing more popular “Beer & Circus” aka Sperber model that those men’s athletics were making popular. These female athlete centered, women-lead groups were (to my understanding) not about making money, corporate sponsorships, TV contracts, opportunistic conference alignments, skirting rules in order to win and satisfy alumni and fans, and figuring out how to brand their programs to increase relevancy and thus be more scalable and salable. However as the NCAA took over the AIAW, men were predominately assigned to run and coach women’s athletics, women’s collegiate sport began to resemble the men’s model (note: arguably there are some positive outcomes to imitating the male model).
My point and challenge to those who care about girls’ and women’s sport is to think about who benefits when “we” replicate, imitate, uphold and reproduce the male model of athletics? Is this what we want to aspire to? Can we do it better? What does “better” look like and mean? How can we take what was working in the days of the AIAW, DGWS and CIAW, and merge it with new innovative ideas, to create a “new-old” model of women’s sport?
Should we think about these questions? Does it matter? I think the answer is a resounding: YES. It does matter because if we want sustainability, growth, and respect for women’s sport I believe that is not only a good idea to think about how to do it differently than what the men are doing and from what is currently being done in women’s sport, but it is necessary and imperative. Right now there are many signs that indicate the male model is broken…look no further than big stories of this year alone including the Ohio State Football/Tressel NCAA violations, conference realignments which are all about football and fail to take into account how longer travel might affect all athletes, women’s athletics or men’s “non-revenue” sport, the University of Miami football violations scandal, or the Sandusky/Penn State/Paterno/Football sex abuse scandal.
I think “we” can do better. Participants at the Tucker Center conference discussed concrete action strategies about how to create change for girls and women in sport and move the needle on some key disparities and inequalities. I challenged them to report back in one year to tell us about what they have accomplished. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, we all should think about how to create broader change in the structure of (men’s) sport that allows and even encourages and permits the egregious behaviors of abuse and discrimination to flourish. (note: I’m not even touching upon the male professional model, which is a different discussion. Instead I’m focusing on sport programs situated in institutions of higher education).
So how do you think we can create structural changes in sport that move the needle that benefit girls and women in sport? I’d love to hear your concrete action strategies…big or small, grass roots or national, public or private.
While talking with a reporter today about WNBA Champions the Minnesota Lynx, I had a realization…it most likely isn’t new, but I’d never thought about selective comparisons between male and female athletes in quite this way before.
Comparisons between male and female athletes in the same sport and in general are commonplace. Today I realized that most comparisons are used to marginalize female athletes, while sustaining and promoting male athletes as the normative best.
When people want to trivialize or put down female basketball players or the WNBA for instance, the comparison goes something like this…. “Women’s basketball is boring. They don’t play above the rim, jump as high, or dunk like the men. No woman could ever play in the NBA.”
The reporter said she had written a piece which suggested that WNBA players are great athletes but more sportsmanlike, team oriented, and accessible than NBA players, which makes them appealing to watch….and she got a lot of push back and negative feedback to the effect of “Why do you always have to compare the leagues and players?”
This got me thinking that some people use comparisons selectively to promote men’s sport and relegate women’s sport. When comparisons are used to highlight to the good or better elements of women’s sport or female athletes compared to their male counterparts, backlash usually ensues. Why? Because the upsides might make people realize that perhaps the better value and product lies in consuming women’s, not men’s, sport.
The similarity lies in the fact females are great athletes!
The difference lies in many factors, some of which I mentioned above.
Both similarities and differences can be used effectively to promote and sustain interest in and for women’s sport.
After the espnW Summit I’ve been thinking about how “we” need to reclaim some of what was lost when the AIAW was taken over by the NCAA in the early ’80′s, as well as take what is working in the current business model of sport (the traditional male model) to help promote and achieve sustainability for women’s sport. Women’s sport doesn’t have to follow or emulate what men’s college and professional sport teams are doing (i.e., conference realignments, rule violations, player strikes and lockouts, egregious behaviors, entitlement, arms race…and so on).
With the 40th anniversary of Title IX upon us soon, it is a great time to reflect on where we are, where we need to go, and how to get there.