Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Gender Effects in the Evaluation of High School Basketball Officials

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Gender Effects in the Evaluation of High School Basketball Officials

Article excerpt

The advent of Title IX created a significant increase in the number of opportunities for women to participate in athletics (Durrant, 1992). This legislation provided not only for greater participation for female athletes, but also afforded a greatly increased demand for women in peripheral roles such as coaching and sports officiating (Casey, 1992). Although the number of women participating in sport has shown a staggering increase since enactment of Title IX, the number of female coaches and female sports officials has shown a dramatic decrease (Casey, 1992). The decrease in the number of women coaches may be attributable, at least partially, to the merging of men's and women's athletic departments into single entities in response to Title IX. This merging left 85% of athletic administrative posts and over 50% of coaching positions to men (Walzer, 1991). An outcome of this disproportionate number of men in coaching and administrative roles was an increase in the number of male officials assigned to female athletic contests and an overall decrease in the number of female officials (Casey, 1992).

"Despite state, regional, and national programs, the number of women officials is still declining and still remains a serious concern" (Casey, 1992, p. 47). Although virtually no empirical work has addressed this difficulty in recruiting and maintaining female officials, research directed at female athletic coaches provides some possible insights. There is an abundance of research demonstrating sex biases which exist in the evaluation of female coaches in swimming and in basketball (Weinberg, Reveles, & Jackson, 1984; Parkhouse & Williams, 1986; Williams & Parkhouse, 1988; Medwechuk & Crossman, 1994). The accepted theory underlying these studies is that gender bias is closely related to the gender appropriateness of the field of endeavor (Mischel, 1974; Lips, 1988). It is not surprising to find that evaluations of swimming coaches demonstrate minimal gender bias against women (Medwechuk & Crossman, 1994), while evaluations of basketball coaches show clear, consistent differences favoring the male (Parkhouse & Williams, 1986). This is consistent with the finding that female participation in team sports is less socially acceptable than is participation in individual sports (Csizma, Wittig, & Schurr, 1988).

Caccese and Mayerberg (1984) found that female athletic coaches reported a higher burnout rate than did their male counterparts. Parkhouse and Williams (1986) postulated that this high burnout rate may be related to a relatively low degree of job satisfaction as a function of lack of support and reinforcement from the athletes being coached. Indeed, it is possible that this lack of support and reinforcement is not indigenous to the athletes, but rather, is a general response from colleagues, coaches, and the sporting public. Wrisberg (1990) suggests that gender bias should be strong when the woman is in an atypical sex role (coaching) coupled with an atypical domain (sport).

If, as suggested, strong sex biases exist in the evaluation of female coaches in male dominated sports, then it seems reasonable to expect that such biases may also exist in the evaluation of female sports officials. Indeed, the role of sports official is associated with authority, and control of others, characteristics inconsistent with the stereotypical feminine role (Bem, 1974). This norm violation may manifest itself in the form of a lack of support and reinforcement for female basketball officials from players, colleagues, coaches, and spectators. This process could provide the basis for a high burnout rate among this population and could help explain the decline in the number of female basketball officials in spite of increased opportunities (Casey, 1992). The present research tests the hypothesis that there exists a bias favoring male basketball officials over female basketball officials and that this bias is greatest when the officials are of low status. …

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