written by Erica Quam
What happens when the "decline of women coaches" issue is brought up? Mostly denial, dismissal, and lame excuses. Read the comments under ANY of the recent headlines about the decline of women in coaching.
Most times I resist looking at comment boards - where anyone can anonymously splatter their naive opinions...without any accountability. However recently, I keep looking...to see if anyone is offering a solution. To see if anyone is bringing forward ideas for a change to happen.
You'll read comments like: "men are better coaches." You may even see, "women actually prefer to be coached by men." Or, "if you want to hire someone who will win, of course a man will be hired."
I'm not exaggerating. Rather than go point-counterpoint with the yahoos on the chat-boards, I would prefer to put my energy elsewhere. I can't dismiss it. I can't leave it there and let it lie. For change to happen, I feel the need to take ACTION.
Here are my thoughts on specific actions to take:
1) There needs to be an INCREASE: Increase in awareness, interest, & numbers
- an INCREASE in awareness is the first step in any challenge. The fact is, the number of girls participating in sports is increasing. The number of women in coaching - especially at the highest levels - is decreasing. This needs to be part of our conversation.
ACTION: Keep talking about the decline!
- INCREASE the interest in coaching begins at the grass root level. Start asking as many moms to help coach little league as dads. Girls who have women coaches as role models at a younger age value what they see. When they see it and value it, maybe they will see it as an option.
ACTION: Keep asking more women to coach!
- INCREASE the number of girls - who have the knack and the passion for sports - who coach. Actively encourage them to look at coaching opportunities with summer league, youth league, & sports camps. Show them you recognize a talent they have and encourage them to use it.
ACTION: Keep telling women they would be a great coach!
Women who coach need to REACH OUT
ACTION: REACH OUT to more experienced coaches. Ask if you can buy them coffee and learn some of their best practices. Utilize their knowledge and don’t reinvent the wheel.
ACTION: REACH OUT for support when challenges come up. Women tend to compare other people’s outsides to their insides. Most people look strong on the outside. On the inside, everyone has struggled and have been there themselves. Don’t think you have to have all of the answers and all of the solutions. Asking for help when you need it is a strength.
ACTION: REACH OUT to other women when a coaching job opens up. Reach out to qualified women and encourage them to apply. Then follow up and recommend them for the job: call on their behalf. If you are applying for a job, let other people know and have them call on your behalf.
Women who coach need to do more to INVITE IN
ACTION: INVITE a younger coach to coffee and ask them how they are doing. Find out what challenges that they may be going through and see if you can help - be a support, be a resource, be a connector.
ACTION: INVITE women coaches to gather and share ideas. Women are naturally relationship builders. When women can connect, collaborate, & create community, then amazing things will happen. Any time and effort spent in getting a group together - large or small - is well worth it.
ACTION: INVITE IN opportunities to learn, grow, & get the support that you need. Create a new group who meets monthly (even online), go to a symposium, network,
What else? This conversation is just beginning. What can YOU do?
"We know that women make unique and critical contributions. They often see problems that others overlook. They are able to reach populations that others either cannot reach or do not care to. And even when it seems that no opportunity exists, they still find a way." - Hillary Clinton
Nothing will change if nothing changes. So TAKE ACTION. Every SMALL step that YOU can make WILL make a HUGE difference.
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