Correction: This article was updated at 5:22 p.m. on September 15 to change the main graphic on NCAA Division I head coaches to one which more accurately represented the data presented in this article. The original bar graph incorrectly separated the data into four separate years when it should have been separated by head coaches of women’s and men’s sports from 2007-2008 and from 2017-2018.
Sports challenge athletes through their physical and mental ability to perform under stressful environments and repeating actions in limited opportunities.
In few leagues, men and women can compete at the highest level for the same sport: basketball, soccer, tennis and hockey.
But equality, or lack thereof, between male and female athletes goes back to the academic level, where athletic equal opportunity policies found their start.
Title IX resulted from the NCAA not offering scholarships to female athletes and underfunding female teams for the first 64 years of its existence. When it was enacted, there were 30,000 female athletes in the NCAA, compared to 170,000 male athletes, according to History.com.
Civil rights for men and women lawfully changed in 1972, when the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights enforced Title IX, a statute meant to protect people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
No person in the United States will be excluded, denied benefits or subjected to discrimination based on gender under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, according to the statute.
In a groundbreaking move that guaranteed equality for females in sports at any academic level, the results of the statute are mixed.
In 1978, the highest percentage of females as head coaches in women’s NCAA sports was 58.2 percent. The percentage reached its lowest point in 2006, with 42.2 percent of women coaching in the league, according to Women in Intercollegiate Sport.
In the 2016-17 academic year, the NCAA had nearly 94,682 male athletes and 84,468 female athletes, according to the 2016-17 NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report.
Throughout a nine-year period, men remained the majority in head-coaching positions. Men totaled 5,209 for head-coaching positions in Division 1, compared to women holding 1,682 positions, according to NCAA Division 1 All Conference Figures.
Only 117 women were head coaches in male sports in the 2016-17 academic year, according to the same report.
While men outnumber women as head coaches in Division 1 sports, it isn’t because men are better qualified than women.
“The search committees I’ve been on, because you still have an industry that is very much male
dominant, you just get more men applying for these positions in the pool,” said Michael Perez, Cal State Fullerton’s faculty athletic representative.
At CSUF, only four women are head coaches out of the 12 NCAA sports teams — Kathryn Hosch (women’s golf), Kelly Ford (softball), Dianne Matias (women’s tennis) and Ashley Preston (volleyball).
Many elements are factored when committees are deciding who fulfills a head coach position.
“I look not only how are they qualified conventionally, but what they bring in terms of perspective and their experiences. And I think that being female in a historically dominant male sport and use them as an insight to be a coach in ways that make them effective,” Perez said.
While hiring approaches are proactive with gender inequality, positions cannot be fulfilled solely on the basis of gender, according to Perez.
“I think progress has been made, particularly at Cal State Fullerton athletics, but it’s not 50-50, by no means.” Perez said.