Research Findings: Feeling Minoritised

Findings: Achieving Gender Equity in High Performance Athletics Coaching in the U.K.

It is evident from the statistics and data that women represent a numerical minority within athletics coaching at all levels of the coaching pathway. This numerical imbalance was also felt by the women and it translated into a feeling of being minoritised. Many of the coaches felt their minority position presented a disadvantage and that it was a constant feature of their experiences:

I don’t feel people always appreciate just how tough it is to take yourself off to a two-day coaching weekend at the other end of the country when the room is going to be 90% of one gender. I can remember…going on a coaching conference weekend and there was perhaps 80 people in the room, and I reckon I was probably one of three women…But I think you know, it’s hard when you walk into a space, or a conference and you are the minority, whatever that minority is. The minority was female, and I think particularly if you are younger and female too, there is a tendency for people not to take you seriously.

I think when you go to a competition away from your own group and set up, [your minority position is] more highlighted. Especially at [name of event] or something like that. I’m there…with all the guys, all the agents are men, all the coaches are men, and I’m not.

But both years, I’m the only female coach in the…competition, because you can tell because for the [name of event] and stuff you’re allowed to go to the little coaches bit and stuff, so you know exactly who is coaching each athlete, and both years I’m the only female coach…I had some problems there because I was the only…the only female, so it was an all-male staff.

One coach spoke about their weighing up of how this minority position may feel like before accepting a job with her NGB. It was considered a risk, but their love of coaching meant they “took the plunge

But one of the things that did go through my mind when I was considering the pros and cons of the position, was there didn’t seem to be any female coaches in employed positions [in the NGB], and I thought, “wow what’s that going to be like?” But at the end of the day it was a job that I’d always dreamt of, so I took the plunge.