Why Are There So Few Women Coaching Elite Track & Field? (Vicky Huyton)

In our series “Why Are There So Few Women Coaching Elite Track & Field?” so far, we have asked the fastest woman alive Carmelita Jeter and Assistant Track & Field Coach (Jumps and Multi Events) at Murray State University Kelsey Riggins.

This time around, we ask the question to our founder Vicky, who has been involved with athletics in the U.K. for almost 20 years, as a coach and development officer.

Why Are There So Few Women Coaching Elite Track & Field?

In my opinion which is formed from my own experience, through the many hundreds of conversations I have had with fellow female T&F coaches, as well as from the research findings from our FCN Track & Field Project, I think the number one reason is the lack of opportunities.

The number one thing stopping women coaching at the elite level in the U.K is simply that the governing bodies do not provide opportunities for women to be coaches part of senior teams, there are very few opportunities for women coaches to present at workshops and conferences and those women who do coach atheltes in the Top 100, receive very little support.

There has never been a female coach on senior GB international teams, less than 5-10% of all workshops and conferences put on by UKA and or the Home Countries have women presenting and only 10% of the athletes on the Futures Programme have a female coach.

Women coaches in the UK do not feel valued (I’m sure this is also the case for many male coaches too!), they do not see a career path in front of them and if they do produce an athlete that is showing talent to perform at an elite level, this athlete is often coaxed away from them.

These facts, figures and stories are not much different in Europe and the US either – it is a systemic and cultural issue that we are working towards changing.