Forty years after Title IX, the number of female college athletes has soared, but the number of female college coaches has dropped. What happened?
Some blame the dropoff on a shallow pool of female candidates, who often aren’t as eager to apply for jobs, let alone pack up and move, as men. But there are more pernicious reasons as well. First is an old-fashioned sexism that gives men a chance to coach women’s programs but squelches any thought of hiring a woman to coach men. There is also an ingrained homophobia that quietly pressures women to hire male assistants so as to combat any appearance of a ‘gay’ program.
One other theme came up again and again during espnW’s dozens of interviews: a lack of second chances for female coaches. Male coaches, particularly in men’s sports, often pass through a revolving door whenever they lose a job—from Bob Knight to Rick Neuheisel to Rich Rodriguez. But women fear they are much more likely to be one and done.
“The Glass Wall.” — Luke Cyphers, Kate Fagan, ESPN
More from Cyphers and Fagan: “On Homophobia and Recruiting in Women’s College Basketball.” — ESPN, Jan. 26, 2011