The Dark Side of Title IX

title9Title IX has been a boost for women in sports.  The number of women in college sports has exploded since 1972 when the law was enacted (the law forced equal funding for men’s and women’s sports in organizations that receive federal funding).  But, for some women, Title IX has been anything but helpful.

For female coaches, Title IX has been a red card.  In 1972, the year that Title IX was enacted, 90% of women’s college teams were coached by women.  By 2012, a mere 43% of these teams were coached by women.   It turns out the same law enacted to protect women’s sports, has cut jobs for female coaches. Why?  As a result of Title IX, universities were forced to offer significantly higher salaries to coaches of women’s sports.  Suddenly, men were interested in these jobs.  And they were hired.

Men are now coaching 57% of women’s sports.  (In case you’re wondering, women coach a whopping 2% of men’s collegiate sports).  What’s most interesting about this trend is that it defies the most common theories about why women are not advancing in the workplace. The argument that women aren’t interested in these jobs or that women are still making their way through the pipeline, clearly don’t apply here.  Women were interested in coaching and were in the coaching pipeline back in 1972.

So, why did men land these jobs after the pay increased?  One reason is that university athletic directors are still predominantly male, and they hired other men to fill the jobs.  Don’t believe me?  Schools that have female athletic directors have significantly more female coaches.  A second reason is that despite Title IX, sports is still considered a man’s domain. When you picture a coach, it’s likely to be a man.  If a man applies for the job, he’s more likely to be hired.

Assistant coaches are another story.  Women represent 57.1% of paid assistant coaches of women’s teams.  Some think this statistic provides a glimmer of progress, but, I’m not convinced.  Sadly, it seems women don’t have trouble landing the role of “assistant”.

Statistics on percentages of female coaches in university athletics can be found here.