All Articles & Reports

Coaching Through a Gender Lens

A breakthrough study that examines the intersection of girls’ sports development with their “current day” experiences and the impact of coaches, through the voices of girls, their parents, and experts in girls’ development and sports.

In partnership with Nike’s Social & Community Impact division, Coaching through a Gender Lens examines girls’ own personal experiences in sport and the degree to which specific coaching practices/experiences impact their participation, motivation, and retention. The findings also highlight the major cultural, environmental, and policy-based barriers that contribute to the gender gap in sport, and the ways in which youth sports organizations serving girls can successfully meet their needs and foster their continued engagement in sport.

Coaching Through a Gender Lens Executive Summary
Power of Parents Research Brief
Coaching Through a Gender Lens Official Press Release here.
Coaching Through a Gender Lens Key Findings Illustration
Coaching Through a Gender Lens Infographic

Coaching Through a Gender Lens Report .pdf (2mb)

How Tennis Influences Youth Development

How Tennis Influences Youth Development builds on two previous research projects — More Than a Sport: Tennis, Education & Health (2013) and Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters (2018) — that view teen sports as an educational tool and public health asset.

Deborah Slaner Larkin, through the MARGARET Fund at the WSF commissioned the WSF to update the data from More Than a Sport and, as it specifically relates to tennis, build on the findings of the Teen Sport Report by examining participation and retention levels as well as what combination of sports is associated with the best academic, social, health, and behavioral outcomes among adolescents.

Tennis Report Executive Summary

Tennis Report Fact Sheet

Full Report

Teen Sport in America

The Women’s Sports Foundation commissioned the Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters report to better understand the impact of sports participation on teen health, well-being and academic achievement.

WSF offers a “Teen Sport in America” toolkit to help organizations utilize this data to communicate the importance of youth sports participation. To request a copy, contact Kristen Gowdy.

Teen Sport in America Executive Summary.
Teen Sport in America Fact Sheet.

Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters Full Report

No sweat: African American adolescent girls’ opinions of hairstyle choices and physical activity

This recently-published small study, financially supported by the Women’s Sports Foundation as part of it’s partnership with the University of Michigan (2010-2013), included 36 African-American girls ages 14 to 17 in three states. The authors found a consistent theme among participants: Adolescent girls preferred straightened hair, which was viewed as the most “attractive” style, and said they avoided getting wet or sweating during exercise because they worried it would ruin their hairstyle.

In an interview with the U-M Health Lab, Dr. Woolford explained more about her study and offered suggestions on how to overcome the potential conflict between hair and health.

In an essay for Time, Dr. Woolford and her collaborator, Carole J. Woolford-Hunt, emphasized the larger implications of the study’s findings, stating, “If it is the case that African-American adolescent girls engage in lower levels of physical activity due to concerns about maintaining straight hair, then social norms and pressures are influencing black populations in ways that are likely detrimental to health.”

Download the Study

Evian Pay Equity Study: 1996

In 1996, the Women’s Sports Foundation paired with Evian Natural Spring Water to closely investigate the comparative earnings, exclusive of endorsements, of male and female professional athletes in the first Women’s Sports Foundation/Evian Athletes’ Earnings Gap Index.

In the past 30 years, Title IX has afforded millions of girls the opportunity to participate in athletics.  In 1972, 1 in 28 girls participated in high school athletics.  The idea of a college scholarship to continue playing sports was unheard of, and the possibility of having a professional career was perhaps only dreamed about.  Today, 1 in 2.5 girls participate in high school athletics, $180 million is awarded to female athletes to play at the collegiate level, and there are a variety of established professional women’s leagues.  Girls and women can now more than dream of making a career of playing sports.  During the 30th anniversary year of Title IX, the Women’s Sports Foundation celebrates the achievements of countless female athletes but also examines the inequalities that remain.

In 1996, the Women’s Sports Foundation paired with Evian Natural Spring Water to closely investigate the comparative earnings, exclusive of endorsements, of male and female professional athletes in the first Women’s Sports Foundation/Evian Athletes’ Earnings Gap Index.  The chief finding was that significant inequality exists in prize money available to male and female athletes across many sports  (See Tables 1 and 2).

In the first study, we compared the total prize purses available to men and women as well as the average earnings of the top 10 male and female athletes in five sports – beach volleyball, bowling, downhill skiing, golf and tennis.  The average prize earnings of the top 10 male athletes were double that of females in tennis, meaning that for every $1.00 a man earned, a woman earned $.49 (1:.49), followed by bowling (1:.46), skiing (1:.30), and beach volleyball (1:.20) (See Figure 1).   The study also found that the 1995-1996 average salary of male NBA players, $1.7 million, was 24 times greater than the average salary of female players, $70,000 in the newly formed American Basketball League (1996-1997 season).

The second study, conducted from 1996-2000, revealed continuing inequities but significant declines in the earnings gaps in tennis, bowling, golf and skiing.  Over the five-year period, the average prize earnings of the top 10 male and female athletes were closest in bowling (1:.70), followed by tennis (1:.67), and golf (1:36).   The 1999-2000 average NBA salary rose to $3.17 million per player, while the average WNBA salary for the same season was $55,000, making the NBA average 58 times higher than the WNBA.  Beach volleyball was not repeated in the 1996-2000 study because both the men’s and women’s tours experienced interruptions in play and prize money during that period.  For basketball, only the average salaries for all players were available.

Tracking the total purses, average salaries and total earnings of athletes is essential in the analysis of equality.  As women’s professional leagues grow in both sponsorship and interest, the Women’s Sports Foundation will continue to monitor the data, educate the media and public, and work with professional leagues to increase sponsorship and fan development.  What can you do as a fan?  You can help us help them.  Become a member of the Women’s Sports Foundation.  Write a letter to thank a sponsor of one of the many women’s professional leagues. Take your family to women’s professional games or buy season tickets to your favorite teams.  Write a letter to Congress through our new Web content area,, and tell them how important it is to support women’s athletics.  Learn about the history of Title IX, about how far women have come and how far women still have to go.  For complete results of both studies, please visit the Foundation’s Web site at or AOL Keyword: WSF.

Jennifer Arndt was the Education Intern at the Women’s Sports Foundation in Fall 2001. This article first appeared in the Spring 2002 issue of the Women’s Sports Experience. Data for the 1996-2000 study was collected and complied by Helene Sisti, Temple University doctoral student and former Foundation intern.