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Statistics on women's coaches not playful



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Be a sport: In 2000, fewer than half - only 45.6 percent - of head coaching jobs for women's collegiate athletic teams were held by women, according to researchers Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter.

And the numbers have only gotten worse: The number of female coaches declined to 44.1 percent in 2004. In real numbers, last year 3,704 women were coaches of women's teams compared to 4,698 men.

Finding out why these coaching jobs for women are declining is the purpose of the Coaching and Gender Equity Project, according to Robert W. Drago, professor of labor studies and industrial relations and of women's studies at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

The Coaching and Gender Equity project is funded by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators and the Commission for Women and Athletics of the Pennsylvania State University.

Drago, an author of a new report by the equity project on the decrease, says that "sex discrimination played a central role in driving the decline ... during a period when substantial gains were experienced in other professions."

Another explanation implies a self-fulfilling prophecy: a small labor pool and stereotypes of which gender coaches should be: "Women student athletes have relatively few women coaches serving as role models and may avoid athletics-related professions entirely."

Work/life balance was another deterrent. "Extreme workloads are in part responsible for jobs in coaching and athletic administration being viewed as family-unfriendly," the report states.

One of the suggestions made to bring women into equity in coaching jobs is to "make coaching and careers in athletic administration both more welcoming of and flexible in response to family commitments."

That would only be fair play.

Another downer: Being on corporate boards, having access to capital and having line jobs rather than staff jobs are ways to judge how U.S. women are doing in corporate America. And don't forget clout.

But these rates of progress actually are slowing down: According to The Committee of 200, a Chicago-based national network of women business owners and corporate leaders, "women's overall business world clout hasn't picked up in at least four years." The network bases its conclusion on its annual index of women's business leadership.

Based on the committee's studies, the current rate of change - or slowdown - means that it will take 20 years before "women and men will be on equal footing in terms of line jobs." And women's influence or clout "probably won't equal men's during this decade or the next."

And when it comes to the size of women-run businesses, where access to capital makes a huge difference in whether or not a company grows, the index predicts that "it will take 50 years for women to reach parity with men on company size."

But a slight hope lies in the fact that the percentage of women enrolling in MBA programs may make a difference: Enrollment had a slight increase of 1 percent this year, after falling by 5 percent the previous year.

What they want: People born between 1961 and 1981 are known as Generation X, the generation that follows those famous baby boomers. And Gen X women know what they want.

"The bottom line is this, if organizations are to keep their Gen X women, they must make changes," according to Charlotte Shelton, a baby boomer mom, and her daughter, Laura Shelton, a Gen Xer. They are the authors of "The Next Revolution: What Gen X women want at work and how their boomer bosses can help them get it" (Davies-Black, $24.95).

"Family leave policies, job sharing, telecommuting, on-site child care and flexible work hours are a good first step, but much more is needed - both from organizations and from society at large," the Sheltons observe. "Leaders must shift their focus from playing games of power and politics to creating cultures of sanity and satisfaction."

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(Carol Kleiman is the workplace columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Send e-mail to ckleiman@tribune.com.)

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(c) 2005, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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