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Females still in minority in coaching


Women are still being passed over for coaching and sports administration jobs across the nation, 42 years after Title IX mandated equal opportunities for female athletes in schools.

“Athletics is the last great bastion of testosterone,” said Marilyn McNeil, athletic director and vice president of Monmouth University. “We are slowly working away at it, but we have so much more to do.”

McNeil told Shore Regional High School students on National Girls and Women in Sports Day Feb. 26 that inequality is still prevalent in the world of athletics.

“You have to be a risk-taker to hire good women, and you also have to know that it is extremely important to have women as role models,” she said. “If you don’t see a female coach, why would you ever believe that you could be a female coach?”

Enacted in 1972, the landmark Title IX legislation prohibited gender discrimination on the athletic field and in the classroom at the high school and college levels.

“This was not an athletics act — we spend time talking about it as an athletics act. This was an education act. It was the one that allows you to be in a math class with boys,” McNeil said.

“It says to each and every one of you that you get the same opportunity for an education that every guy gets.”

But progress in athletics is being made at a much slower pace.

“The problem was … everyone complied, but athletics really struggled. And they still are struggling,” McNeil said.

There may be no larger gap in the disparity between men and women in the sports world than in the field of coaching.

In 1972, just 9 percent of women’s Division I college teams were coached by females. That number rose to 43 percent by 2012.

In contrast, men currently coach 97 percent of men’s teams.

“As women’s sports have gotten more popular, men have decided to come and coach,” McNeil said, adding that schools often select male candidates because they have more experience.

Another area that remains almost entirely male-dominated is the football field.

“We don’t see women in the football world, and we need to see them,” she said. “Right now, they only play minor roles — sideline reporters, pretty girls — and we need to see them in much bigger roles.”

Laura Lewis, director of marketing, brand and digital strategy for the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA), said women are being pushed to learn football in order to succeed in the field.

“We tell all our members that you have to know football to advance, and it’s true,” she said in an interview. “We’ve partnered with various football organizations, like the National Football Foundation, to make sure that women are knowledgeable in that area. “More women are asking to have a seat at the table when it comes to football and be decision makers,” she added. “I think there is a perception that women don’t know the sport of football because they don’t play it, and that is not correct.”

NACWAA is a Kansas City-based leadership organization dedicated to developing and advancing the success of women in the profession. McNeil was given the organization’s Administrator of the Year award in 1996 for her contributions as an administrator of intercollegiate athletics.

On average, a college athletic department allocates 59 percent of its budget to football, 19 percent to men’s basketball, and 22 percent to the remaining men’s programs and all women’s programs, according to McNeil.

“In most cases, they have football and they won’t change the needle on that 59 percent,” McNeil said. “We need to change that culture that football doesn’t need everything.”

There is also an equality gap in administrative positions.

According to McNeil, females make up just 13 percent of college athletic departments’ staff, and 10 percent of college sports information directors. Though there are more than 340 Division I programs, they currently employ just 32 female athletic directors — an increase of 10 in the 19 years since McNeil was named athletic director at Monmouth.

“That is not progress — that is sad,” she said. “One of the reasons I’m told as to why women can’t be athletic directors is because they haven’t played football.

“There is some myth out there that whatever is in that helmet is really important for your ability to lead a department.”

While the numbers remain skewed, Mc- Neil said after the presentation that progress is slowly being made.

“There is a little movement. We’ve had a pretty good year this past year in terms of getting some women in positions,” she said.

Lewis noted that as more and more women are given administrator positions, other women will filter through the athletic departments.

“As we see more women get into more positions of influence, I think we will definitely see more women at every level of the profession,” she said. “As we see our peers getting great jobs, we realize the potential for it. Sometimes we just need a little push.” Since the passage of Title IX, the number of female high school students participating in sports has increased substantially.

“In 1972, when Title IX passed, 7 percent of the opportunities were for high school girls, and in 2010 we are now at 41 percent,” McNeil said. “Sometimes what you hear is that women are taking away opportunities for boys.

“Women’s participation is going up — and that’s good — but so are boys’ opportunities,” she added. “Title IX doesn’t talk about limiting opportunities for boys or for girls, it talks about equal opportunities.”

In 2010-11, there were more than 3 million female high school athletes and more than 200,000 female college athletes in Division I, II and III, according to McNeil.

During her presentation, McNeil singled out 13 females who have made significant inroads in the field of sports, including tennis great Billie Jean King, Division I college football referee Sarah Thomas, NFL agent Keli Masters, and New York City Marathon organizer Mary Whitenberg.

According to Lewis, having powerful women like McNeil speak to students will have a positive influence on the younger generation.

“I think the younger we can get to men and women to educate them on the importance of women leaders in the workplace, the better,” Lewis said. “We want to make sure we get to men at an early age to squash any of the stereotypes that may be out there.”

Also speaking during the presentation was Monmouth University assistant women’s soccer Coach Kylee Rossi, who was a four-year student athlete at the University of Tennessee.

“When I went down there, I fell in love with the way they treated their female athletes,” she said. “You were treated just as well as the big stud, 300-pound football player that was probably going to play in the pros.

“They care about you academically, athletically.”

Despite there still being some gender inequality, Rossi said students should never get discouraged.

“Continue to try to follow your dreams in whatever sport or anything you do,” she said.

Prior to the presentation, all-state field hockey player Carol Middough was presented with Shore Regional’s first National Women’s Day in Sports plaque as an outstanding senior.

Shore Regional’s Nancy Williams, the winningest field hockey coach in the nation, presented the award to Middough, who will attend Yale University next year.

Williams said women’s athletics have come a long way at Shore.

“It was a hard fight to get it to the level that it is at,” she said. “You came here and all the fields were here, all the uniforms were here, and all the programs were going. That was not true when I started here.”

This article is republished with the permission of Greater Media Newspapers. The original story can be found by clicking: http://ind.gmnews.com/news/2014-03-06/Front_Page/Females_still_in_minority_in_coaching.html


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