The Examination of the Mentoring Relationship between the Head Coach and Assistant Coaches of Women's Basketball Teams

By Bower, Glenna G. | Advancing Women in Leadership, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Examination of the Mentoring Relationship between the Head Coach and Assistant Coaches of Women's Basketball Teams


Bower, Glenna G., Advancing Women in Leadership


A number of studies have examined the decreasing number of female head coaches of women's teams. Researchers have consistently demonstrated the mentoring relationship has provided substantial benefits in helping women advance within leadership positions within the sport industry. The purpose of this study was to examine the mentoring relationship between the head coach and female assistant coach of women's basketball teams who aspire to become a head coach. More specifically, the mentoring characteristics and advancement techniques were two areas of focus. Findings suggested mentoring characteristics and advancement techniques may provide recommendations on mentoring women who aspire to become head coaches.

Key words: mentoring, women, basketball, coaches.

Introduction

Most Title IX advocates have focused their energy on female athletes, thus creating increased opportunities for women to participate in high school and college sport. Following the enactment of Title IX in 1972, female athletes playing college sports has risen from 16,000 in 1972 to 180,000 in 2006. In addition, the number of women's teams per school has grown from 2.5 in 1970 to the highest number at 8.45 in 2006. While there are increased opportunities for women to participate in sport, the percentage of women's teams coached by women is at an all time low. The number of female head coaches of women's teams has dwindled from 90% in 1972 to 42.4% in 2006. Over the past three decades, nearly every sport has seen a steep decline in the proportion of teams coached by women. Of the five most popular sports - basketball, volleyball, soccer, cross country, and softball - all but soccer, has seen a decrease in female head coaches (Acosta & Carpenter, 2006). Why has obtaining a head coaching position for women's teams remained a struggle?

A number of studies have examined the decreasing number of female head coaches of women's teams and discovered several themes for this phenomenon. These themes have included work and career related variables (Hums, Bower, & Grappendorf, 2007; Sagas & Ashley, 2001; Sagas & Cunningham, 2004), the social context of female coaches operating in a predominately male environment (Kilty, 2006), lack of leadership confidence (Lough, 2001), financial inequity (Acosta & Carpenter, 2006; Pastore, 1991), career-related burn-out (Pastore, 1991), and discriminatory hiring procedures (Lovett & Lowry, 1994). In addition, some researchers have indicated female assistant coaches have less desire and are less likely than male assistant coaches to apply for a head coaching positions (Cunningham & Sagas, 2002; Cunningham, Sagas, & Ashley, 2003; Sagas, Cunningham, & Ashley, 2000). This lack of desire is discouraging considering female assistants have the largest candidate pool (57.2%) for women's head basketball coaching positions within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (Acosta & Carpenter, 2006). However, it must be noted there are barriers that exist and have contributed to this "lack of desire" of women applying for head coaching positions including financial inequity (Acosta & Carpenter, 2006); gender disparity (Kelly & Sagas, 2005) and work and career related variables (Knoppers, 1992, 1989; Sagas, Cunningham, & Pastore, 2006; Yiamouyiannis, 2007). These barriers are very similar to the reasons why the number of female head coaches continues to decline. Therefore, strategies need to be examined to help in the development of female assistant basketball coaches of women's teams who aspire to become a head coach. One strategy that continues to emerge on a consistent basis within the literature is mentoring. Researchers have consistently demonstrated the mentoring relationship provides substantial benefits in helping women advance within leadership positions within sports (Bower & Hums, 2007; Weaver & Chelladurai, 2002, 1999; Young, 1990).

Theoretical Framework

Formal mentoring has been linked to increased satisfaction, personal growth and career mobility of many protégés within sport organizations (Pastore, 2003; Sagas, Cunningham, & Pastore, 2006; Weaver & Chelladurai, 2001, 1999). …

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