Study to investigate barriers to women becoming football coaches
Dr Leanne Norman, a Senior Research Fellow at the University’s Research Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, will lead the research study, focusing on the experiences of women coaches moving from the middle levels of the coaching pathway into more elite levels of the profession.
Dr Norman will also examine the experience of women as tutors and coach educators. She aims to identify the barriers and facilitators to women's progression and their intent to remain as coaches and tutors within football. The work will also put any findings into the wider context of gender equality.
There are around 1400 women qualified at level one of the football coaching pathway and this then steadily decreases by around 70% when progressing through each of the five levels of the coaching qualifications. This has a knock-on effect for the identification of women as football tutors (coach educators) as individuals cannot become tutors until they reach level three (UEFA B license) of the coaching ladder.
Dr Norman commented: “The drop out of women after level one of the football coaching pathway is significant and worrying. The lack of women as football coaches is no more evident than in the statistic that only four women within the UK hold the highest football coaching qualification, compared to hundreds of men. Therefore, this study is important for its focus on the progression and retention of women as football coaches, rather than solely recruitment.
“This is the challenge for policy makers, organisations and researchers and yet little is known as to what are both the barriers to women's movement up the coaching ladder as well as the required support mechanisms. Without more qualified women coaches and thus more women in visible, powerful positions of leadership, gendered stereotypes will persist centred on the association of masculinity with authority. For sporting governing bodies, it also means that athletes have less choice if they continue to be coached by the same faces and organisations are losing out on the benefits of having a diverse workforce who offer a greater range of skills and abilities."
It is hoped that the findings of the study, which will begin in September and run for six months, will underpin some of the FA's strategies and policies towards promoting and retaining women as football coaches and tutors. Dr. Norman will be working with a number of individuals within the FA to deliver the project and will be assisted by AJ Rankin, a research assistant at Leeds Beckett.