Including More Women Coaches in Youth Sports: Why it Matters

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Michael A. Messner is Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California and the author of several books including Taking the Field: Women, Men, and Sports. His latest title, It’s All for the Kids: Gender, Families, and Youth Sports, will be published by UC Press in April 2009. Below, is an excerpt from his blog entry entitled, Including More Women Coaches in Youth Sports: Why it Matters, from the youth sports website, MomsTeam.

“Unlike in my day, when all of the kids playing Little League were boys, there are now a substantial number of girls playing. Today, LLB/S is an organization that boasts 2.7 million children participants worldwide, 2.1 million of them in the United States. There are 176,786 teams in the program, 153,422 of them in baseball and 23,364 in softball. But the dramatic growth of girls on the field has not been matched by a growth of women coaches.

In the community I studied for eight years — South Pasadena, California — only 2% of boys’ baseball teams were coached by women, while 11% of girls’ softball teams had women coaches. I discovered
that prospective women coaches faced barriers—mostly informal and unspoken — that diverted them away from coaching.  Most of the few women who did coach left after a year or two, after finding the league to be dominated informally by a less-than-supportive “old boys’ network” of coaches. I came to see this as a problem.

To read the entire blog entry and other subsequent blogs, please visit, Messner’s MomsTeam blog.