Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, June 18, 2009

From the Women's Sports Foundation: Perceptions of “Others”: The Role of Heterosexism in the Decline of College Women Coaches - Lesbian head coaches in college sports discuss their views on the overall decline of female head coaches in the college ranks.
Research continues to point to a steady decline of women head coaches in collegiate sport (Carpenter & Acosta, 2006). While female collegiate student-athletes are at an all time-high, female college head coaches are at an all-time low. Scholars (e.g., Griffin, 1992; Kauer, 2005) have suggested a relationship between heterosexism and the decline in the number of women coaches; however no research directly addressed heterosexism and the decline prior to this study.

This qualitative study examined the perceptions of eight NCAA Division I lesbian head coaches about the decline in the number of women head coaches. The two most prominent themes from the interviews with these coaches were (1) the coaches’ perceptions that heterosexism does play a role in the decline in the number of women coaches, and (2) how heterosexism has limited lesbian coaches’ upward mobility. Six of the eight coaches believed that heterosexism has played and continues to play a role in the decline. They discussed how this phenomenon is perpetuated by athletic directors’ selecting more male coaches than ever before and showing a preference for married women coaches. They also discussed how heterosexism and homonegativism are difficult to prove. Whether an applicant for a coaching position was not selected or a current coach was released from her position, she more than likely would not bring up the issue of heterosexism or homonegativism for fear of repercussion in future searches.