Where are all the female coaches in collegiate sports?

Mary Jo Kane, left, and Danielle O'Banion.
Mary Jo Kane, left, and Danielle O'Banion stand for a portrait at MPR on Thursday, June 6, 2019.
Evan Frost | MPR News

There are more women playing college sports today than ever before, but barely 40 percent of their coaches are women. Where have all the female coaches gone?

Before Title IX, in the early 1970s, women had 90 percent of the top coaching jobs in women's athletics. When Title IX was established, schools were required to provide equal opportunities for male and female student-athletes.

With time, women's sports became lucrative and prestigious. As resources flowed in and coaching salaries went up, female coaches disappeared from the sidelines and were replaced by male coaches.

Today, the highest representation of female coaches works as graduate and volunteer assistants — entry-level roles for college athletics.

During this year's NCAA Division 1 women's basketball tournament, University of Notre Dame women's basketball Coach Muffet McGraw spoke out about gender equality and the lack of women coaches at the collegiate level.

Whereas fewer than half of the assistant coaching positions in the NCAA are held by women, McGraw's coaching staff is 100 percent female-led — a staggering number for college sports.

At the youth sports level, women make up less than one-third of the coaching force. In high school athletics the numbers are even more discouraging — only 21 percent of coaches are women.

MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, Mary Jo Kane, and Danielle O'Banion, University of Minnesota assistant basketball coach, about why there are so few women coaches.


Mary Jo Kane is a professor in the School of Kinesiology, and the director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota

Danielle O'Banion is an assistant coach for the University of Minnesota women's basketball program

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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