Barriers to Leadership for Women in College Athletics
Today there is an enormous gender disparity among collegiate head coaches and athletic administrators in the United States. Women fill less than a quarter of head coach and athletic director positions in college athletics and are even minorities among coaches of women's teams. Few other professions are as impervious to gender integration. Leadership in college athletics is, in the words of one scholar, one of the "few male bastions remaining," which raises the question: Why are women so starkly underrepresented in leadership positions within college athletics? There is no easy answer, but rather a variety of factors that exclude, deter, or cause an early exit for women who would have otherwise pursued careers in college athletics. After presenting the demographics of leadership in college athletics to illustrate this gender disparity, this Chapter considers the unique barriers women face when seeking entry to the profession, the ways in which athletic departments operate to constrain women's advancement and retention in their jobs, and the combined effect of these and other factors on women's interest and motivation to pursue or remain in leadership positions in college athletics.