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Women Coaches and Administrators: Reversing The Decline in Numbers


Greater Female Sports Participation ...

There is widespread support for the idea that since the passage of Title IX in 1972 the fate of girls and women in school sports has greatly improved. Participation figures alone show a mass societal shift in acceptance of female athletes. At all levels, from community through professional leagues, female athletes are participating in greater numbers and in a greater variety of sports than ever before.

The magnitude of progress can be measured in the growth of opportunities available for female athletes. Nearly 40% of all athletes participating in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece were women. The team from the United States in the 2004 Games came ever closer to gender parity, with 282 men and 263 women representing the nation.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA), participation among females in varsity sports nationwide has grown from 300,000 in 1972 to over 2.9 million during the academic year 2004-2005. This represents an 800 percent increase in participation in the span of three decades. At the college level, female participation in varsity sports has risen from 30,000 to almost 151,000 between 1971-1972 and 2003-2004.

Linda Carpenter and Vivian Acosta, former physical educators and coaches who have studied trends in women coaching and athletic administration for several decades, attribute the massive increase in participation to the convergence of several factors, including:

  • A generation of females who grew up with the advantages of Title IX and whose daughters now represent the second generation of Title IX beneficiaries;
  • A long line of successful Title IX lawsuits that clarified the need for girls and women to receive athletic opportunities;
  • Society's greater acceptance of female athleticism;
  • More frequent exposure of female athletes in mass media;
  • The provision of fuller access to athletics for both females and males within the nation's schools.
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