An authority tells me she’s looking for where the women coaches at
None other Nicole LaVoi (pronounced La Vwah — like Stephen Colbert would say, it’s French, bitch) responded to my post the other day, “Where the women coaches at?” That was the name of the post, not her response.
LaVoi (left) is associate director of the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, and as such has done a lot of work on answering the grammatically challenged question posed in the previous paragraph. The center recently hosted University of Southern California professor of sociology and gender studies Michael Messner, who has done some work on the subject himself.
You might remember my previous post for its frequent, sardonic use of “soft essentialism,” Messner’s term for women thinking they are making a choice not to coach when it’s really the Man (or, in fact, the old boys running the coaching network) who have unconsciously made that choice for them. I responded that while that might be true in some cases, at least among the moms that I know, their choice not to coach has more to do with either a lack of interest in sports or a desire not to add one more goddamn thing to their schedule after work and chores.
I have come to learn two things since my previous post. One is that “The Soft Essentialism” is a great name for a band, and with that name I am totally gonna open for Radiohead within three years. The other, as Professor LaVoi pointed out, is that while I have my differences with her and Messner, we have more in common than I might have believed.
Thank you for your blog in raising more awareness on this issue and providing additional insights and opinions. In Messner’s book he actually does talk about how many men also feel left out of the “old boy’s network” and face many of the same barriers to coaching that women perceive and face. Neither Messner nor I are making the claim that men are overtly scheming to keep women out of coaching, but there are many subtle ways in which this happens that are much more complex than merely saying “women don’t want to coach”.
I wrote two blogs about the lack of female coaches in youth sport and why it matters and how to help increase the number of female coaches in youth sport. I agree with you that many women are just too busy to even think about coaching and are juggling many roles. I don’t think we disagree…not that much anyway! I also agree that implementing the strategies is much more difficult than writing about it, but if one thinks it is an important issue…it is a starting point!
I would heartily agree with you, professor. Whatever we think the reason, I think we all like the idea of having more women coaching.
I’m not sure I buy Brooke de Lench’s (of Momsteam fame) contention that, and I paraphrase, that women coaches are needed because they tend to bring unicorns and sunshine while, by contrast, male coaches tend to be overcompetitive assholes. However, different people bring different talents, and leagues should make it abundantly clear they want and encourage women among the coaching ranks.
While it seems like there should be a lot more female coaches nearly 40 years into the Title IX era, perhaps this problem will solved by a future generation — the so-called second wave of feminism, if you will. I eagerly await watching my 9-year-old and 3-year-old daughters someday coaching their kids.