The Women’s Sports Foundation released a report confirming that female coaches of women’s sports currently face limitations in pay and professional advancement in the workplace, and furthermore that the trend shows no signs of improvement.

The report, “Beyond X’s & O’s: Gender Bias and Coaches of Women’s College Sports,” measured the issue of gender bias in coaching of women’s college sports on a systematic basis. It is currently the largest nationally representative survey of female and male coaches of women’s college sports, with more than 2,500 respondents.

The report also explores the reasons why, despite the expansion of college sports, women remain underrepresented in significant leadership roles and the percentage of female coaches has significantly diminished over the last four decades.

Some key findings include:

  • Men are given more professional advantages than women: The vast majority of female coaches agreed that it’s easier for men to get top-level jobs (80 percent), negotiate salary increases (91 percent), be promoted (70 percent) and secure multi-year contracts (67 percent).
  • Advocating for fairness has consequences: Many female coaches expressed fear of unfair treatment, retaliation and loss of their jobs if they express Title IX concerns to athletic department leaders or university administrators.
  • Women experience more gender bias on the job than men: More than 40 percent of female coaches felt “discriminated against because of their gender,” compared to 29 percent of their male colleagues. Many women believed management favors men and nearly half are often asked to perform tasks that are not within their job description.
  • Female coaches hold back: Women said they are less willing to voice their opinions outside of the athletic department and are less involved in decision-making inside the athletic department.

“Despite the expansion of college sports, women hold fewer than 23 percent of head coaching positions across National Collegiate Athletic Association institutions,” said Deborah Slaner Larkin, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “The Women’s Sports Foundation urges policymakers and administrators to take steps to foster nondiscriminatory work environments for female and male coaches in intercollegiate women’s sports.

“Institutions of higher education should require administrators to ensure equal opportunity, fair compensation, job security and access to jobs, professional advancement, resources and decision-making regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race and ethnicity or disability,” Larkin added.

Responsive policy recommendations in Beyond X’s and O’s are intended to provide constructive recommendations to enhance women’s opportunities and experiences in the workplace of women’s sports. They aim to help coaches have access to equal opportunities and eliminate the fear of retribution for vocalizing issues related to discrimination and Title IX compliance.

The Women’s Sports Foundation — the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports — is dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring girls access to sports.

Coaches of Women's College Sports Face Widespread Gender Bias; Many Fear Speaking Out (PRNewsFoto/Women's Sports Foundation)

Coaches of Women’s College Sports Face Widespread Gender Bias; Many Fear Speaking Out (PRNewsFoto/Women’s Sports Foundation)