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Secrets of Successful Women Coaches

There are very few women coaches in my community's youth sports leagues: only 13% in AYSO and 6% in Little League Baseball and Softball. While I found very little overt sexism or hostility toward women coaches, their stories told of informal (but very powerful) processes that discouraged them: being informally pushed away from coaching at the entry level; feeling a constant sense of scrutiny from other adults ("is she really qualified to coach my kid?"); being made to feel like an outsider in the midst of an "old boys' network"; having to contend with men's sometimes "intimidating" loud voices on the playing fields.

Including More Women Coaches in Youth Sports: Why it Matters

Next month, millions of kids will retrieve their baseball and softball gloves from the bottoms of drawers or from under their beds.  After a trip to the store to get some new cleats (after all, their feet have grown since last summer!), they will take the field for another Little League season. This is a Spring rite for kids, shallowly rooted in recent history, but often deeply rooted in family dynamics. Founded 1938 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Little League Baseball expanded rapidly throughout the United States and Canada. By the mid-1950s, Little League Baseball was fully established as a major institution with 4000 leagues in the United States, and further growth into Mexico and other nations.


Prospective women coaches face barriers — mostly informal and unspoken — that divert them away from coaching. Most of the few women who do coach leave after a year or two, after finding the league to be dominated informally by a less-than-supportive “old boys’ network” of coaches. This as a problem that needs to be fixed.

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