The Women’s Sports Foundation Sports Advocacy Network met for the first time at Morgan Stanley Headquarters in New York City on October 18, 2016. Joining the Athlete Leadership Connection and Annual Salute to Women in Sports gala as a part of WSF Champion’s Week, the Sports Advocacy Network (SAN) convened a blue-ribbon group of college athletic administrators, coaches, and conference commissioners to craft an action plan to reverse the decline of female coaches.
Despite the expansion of opportunities for women since Title IX’s passage, the proportion of women coaching women’s teams at the collegiate level has declined significantly since. In 1972, more than 90% of the coaches of women’s teams were female. Today, that figure has fallen to only 43%. WSF’s recent research report Beyond X’s and O’s: Gender Bias and Coaches of Women’s College Sports confirmed that there is systemic gender bias in the coaching workplace of women’s college sports, and that while many female coaches experience gender bias, few of their male counterparts perceive it.
Using the report’s policy recommendations as a springboard, the Sports Advocacy Network united these experts in the field to devise constructive ways to reverse this trend and increase women’s representation in coaching and athletic leadership roles. University administrators, athletic conference leaders, legal experts and collegiate coaches shared insights, identified key objectives and developed an action plan to enhance women’s opportunities and experiences in the workplace of women’s sports.
This will be the first of many meetings of its kind, as the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sports Advocacy Network will continue to work together and use its collective expertise to address the myriad issues facing female athletes and coaches continuing the pursuit of gender equity in sports.