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Five steps for sports orgs to support female coaches

Despite the well-documented benefits of gender equity and the positive influence of women leaders and role models in sport, women continue to be underrepresented in coaching across levels and disciplines.

In 2019, only 34% of coaches who took a National Coaching Certification Program courses were women. Women currently hold only 3% of head coaching roles for men’s teams, 18% of head coaching roles in mixed sport, and 26% of head coaching roles for women’s teams in Canadian university/college sport.

Canadian Women & Sport identified five steps that sport organizations can take to help recruit, support, and advance women in coaching.

1. Create an organizational culture that values women. You can do this by challenging “blame the woman” narratives and being explicit, intentional, and unapologetic in communicating your values of inclusion. This includes valuing and providing equitable support and resources for women’s teams and women in coaching.

“Blame the woman” narratives around coaching include: women don’t apply, they don’t like sports as much as men, they lack the knowledge and experience to coach, women with kids aren’t committed and have less time, and women only get the job because they are women.

2. Support and accommodate parent coaches. Encourage coaches of any gender to bring their family into their role as coach as much as they can. Implement family friend policies around travel and support, including subsidized childcare.

3. Build and reach out to diverse networks and develop a succession list of talented women to fill coaching roles. Involve women coaches and leaders in the recruiting and hiring process and commit to building a diverse candidate pool.

4. Offer, develop, and pay for all-women or women focused development opportunities, including mentorship programs for women coaches.

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5. Make a commitment to hiring and promoting women coaches by setting clear targets for the percentage of women coaching at every level, and a timeline to achieve those goals.

—Source: Canadian Women & Sport

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