Playing Field Becoming Less Level for Women Coaches

In what unfortunately is an unsurprising trend, the percentage of female coaches for NCAA sports teams is decreasing, even for women’s sex discriminationteams. According to a report from KCUR, women are actually losing ground over their male counterparts in coaching positions, despite more equal rights awareness and protections than ever.

To illustrate the trend, 20 percent of softball coaches were men in 1982 at the time of the first Women’s College World Series. The eight teams who played in the championships that year were all coached by women. Today, Division I softball programs have expanded greatly, and so has the percentage of men coaching those teams, up to 35 percent.

It’s not just softball that’s affected. In 1972 more than 90 percent of all collegiate teams were coached by women. Now it’s half, according to NCAA Champion Magazine. The KCUR report showed that of Division I volleyball teams, a championship title victor has never been coached by a woman, and in women’s basketball only four of the Sweet 16 teams last year were coached by women. This isn’t even to address the obvious lack of women coaching men’s teams. Women’s sports in general have increased in respect and popularity, making coaching opportunities more appealing to men, who previously were less interested in the roles.Employment discrimination based on gender is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But as our Orange County gender discrimination attorneys can explain, sex discrimination is not always easy to identify. One former softball coach pointed out that a major problem occurs at the administrative level, where most of the people making decisions about hiring are men. Currently women comprise only 20 percent of NCAA athletic director positions. Another current female softball coach pointed out that women are less likely to be recruited for positions. They are expected to apply, while men of equal caliber are sought out and asked to consider positions. Sometimes women don’t consider coaching as a possibility because of a lack of female coaching role models.  Women Leaders in College Sports, a leadership organization that works to advance women, would like to see changes happening at the administrative level to help curb this cycle and are petitioning colleges to be more aware of their hiring practices. 

Discrimination doesn’t have to be intentional to still be discrimination. People are more likely to network, befriend, and favor people who remind them of themselves. So when leaders making hiring decisions are men, they can often end up in circles with other men, which makes a difference when it comes time to choose someone for a job. Meanwhile women who spent years playing these sports with NCAA aren’t making it to these revered positions.

It’s a shame that gender discrimination is still an issue for women in the workplace. Unfortunately, though, it is, and it’s not always easy to prove. That’s why it’s so important to have experienced and knowledgeable sex discrimination lawyers on your side. Every situation is different, and it takes a keen legal team like ours to determine the strongest course of action to build your case. You deserve an advocate who puts your interests above that of your employer and holds them accountable to all laws and regulations.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.

Additional Resources:

Where are the Women?, Winter 2017, By Rachel Stark, NCAA Champion Magazine

More Blog Entries:

New Employment Law Bolsters Equal Pay for Equal Work, Targets Gender Discrimination, March 24, 2018, Orange County Employment Lawyers Blog


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