National Trends Tracing Female Employment as College Athletic Directors
New study shows that the number of women working as college athletic directors has almost doubled since 1990.
Research from Higher Education Publications, Inc. reveals that the number of women employed as college athletic directors has increased from 11% to 19.5% at NCAA colleges since 1990. Looking at Division I, II, and III schools across the country, this percentage translates to 200 female athletic directors out of 1,022 programs examined.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of the number of women working as athletic directors at each Division level:
- Division I: 12% (39 of 339)
- Division II: 14% (41 of 286)
- Division III: 30% (120 of 397)
When it comes to the major ACC conferences, the “Big Ten,” “Pac-12,” and SEC, the percentages are lower with only 7.6% (5 of 65) athletic directors being women.
What’s Holding Women Back?
One of the reasons for these lower percentages is the stereotype that females do not understand the culture of football. According to Sandy Barbour, athletic director at Penn State, “There is this notion that because women, in general, don’t play football, how would you administer or supervise it?”
The study also identifies the disproportionally high number of males who are handling the hiring process as another obstacle to women becoming athletic directors. Previous research has illustrated this issue with only 16 of the 115 major research universities and only 30% of all colleges nationwide having female presidents.
Positive Implications for the Future
While the progress has been slow, the increasing number of female athletic directors shows that the nature of hiring for male-dominated positions is slowly changing. According to Patti Phillips, CEO of the NACWAA (National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators), “The athletics world is realizing that women as athletic directors are doing a pretty good job and that they are very positive leaders who develop good programs. […] A woman’s voice in the department of athletics needs to be heard.”
This is a closer look at the research that examines the growing number of female athletic directors in colleges across the U.S. Looking for a consulting firm with experience working in higher education? Then don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at McKnight Associates, Inc. We are ready to offer you hands-on human resources consulting for colleges, universities, medical centers, and organizations of all sizes.