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Women as coaches – are you mad??!!!

We all know it’s the right thing to do – being equitable, being ‘PC’ but really – is it necessary for more women to become coaches?

We know that the coaching workforce is dominated by men – middle class white men to be exact (Coach Tracking Study, 2012). This is great, and we should welcome and thank every coach that spends their time, predominantly for free, to coach children and adults during the evening and weekends. But, what if you don’t want to be coached by a man?

Currently only 30% of the coaching population is made up of women, most of those are coaching children and younger people at recreation or participant level and, of course, are unpaid volunteers. 30%’s not bad but women make up 51% percent of the population, surely this statistic should recognise that fact. If there are more women in this country why is this not reflected in coaching?

A larger issue is that out of all qualified coaches, women only make up 18% of the qualified coaching workforce. According to the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation(WSFF) the split of men and women taking a level 1 qualification is about 50:50 but there is a massive drop-off after that. It would appear that women are not interested in taking further coaching qualifications. Why is that? Is it to do with when coaching courses run? Are weekends just not viable for women? The training content or approach is too male orientated? Women just don’t like taking qualifications to prove they are good at what they do? Coach education courses need to be more accessible for women.

Most coach education workshops are run by men. It is widely recognised that women have a different approach to learning (this also goes for being coached) to men. Even if more women chose to take coaching qualifications and progress their careers, they are still being trained how to coach by men – developing a male orientated approach to coaching. More women as coach education tutors will start to break the cycle.

Coming back to the point above about women predominantly coaching children and young people. Why is that? Surely it is their ‘nurturing gene’? well, yes – women have a greater tendency for nurturing – but don’t developing athletes and high performing athletes also need nurturing too??? The sports coach UK and WSFF joint research projectaround coaching high performance athletes showed that high performing female athletes prefer to be coached by men – why is that? Well, if you think that if most men are coaches, and this statistic increase the further up the food chain of coaching you get, women will have been coached by men all the way through their career – why change when you get to the top??

It’s time to break the cycle:

  • Women are an untapped resource in terms of increasing the number of coaches in this country
  • Women can bring different life skills and experiences that are essential for coaching
  • Not everyone likes to be coached by a man. Bringing more women into coaching may very well increase the number of participants into your sport.

Call to action:

Get more women into volunteering at your session. Support them. Explain to them about coaching and how they can help. Recognise their achievements and praise their support. Get them on a coaching course.......!!!!

Pause for thought: reversing gender stereotyping in the gym


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