Doctor of Education
Currently, there are disproportionally few women who hold coaching positions within Canadian university sport. To investigate the gender gap, this dissertation explores the institutional practices that inform women coaches’ working realities. Applying Smith’s (1987) institutional ethnography as a mode of inquiry directed the exploration towards the everyday practices and processes that inform experience, to better understand current barriers and supports in place. In this study, particular attention is given to social relations, which Smith (2005) calls the relations of ruling that coordinate activities and experiences of individuals within organizations. Institutional ethnography aims to explicate these relations of ruling by exploring individuals’ everyday work practices, which was done through interviews with current women coaches at a Canadian university. Additionally, two university sport gender equity policies (Actively Engaged: A Policy on Sport for Women and Girls and the U Sports Equity Policy), and women coaches' work schedules were analyzed. The findings illuminate women coaches’ daily activities within the university and how the relations of ruling coordinate these realities. It was revealed that hegemonic masculine ideals shape women coaches’ daily realities within the university. For example, the challenge of achieving work-life balance, and women coaches’ participating in unseen and unrecognized work. This research illuminates the complexity of women coaches’ daily activities, and challenges Canadian university sport to do things differently. Recommendations based on the research findings include community building, coaching education that reflects current working realities, and action-based gender equity policies. By listening to the experiences of women coaches’ and mapping out the relations of ruling that informs their daily lives, this research has challenged the taken-for-granted practices and processes within university sport, calling for a more nuanced understanding of women’s work in coaching.
Summary for Lay Audience
Currently, women coaches are largely underrepresented within Canadian university sport. Studies that have explored why there is a gender gap in coaching are largely focused on individual barriers, such as self-efficacy, with limited research focused on the Canadian context. Alternatively, the present study is a qualitative exploration of how one Canadian university informs the everyday working realities of both the head and assistant women coaches who work there. The purpose of the study was to gain a better understanding of how institutional practices in Canadian university sport, contribute to the gender gap in coaching. Eight women head and assistant coaches at one Canadian university shared their daily work experiences. Additionally, two sport gender equity policies (Actively Engaged: A Policy on Sport for Women and Girls and the U Sports Equity Policy), and women coaches' work schedules were analyzed. In combination, the interviews and text analysis illuminated how the institution impacts women coaches’ daily activities. The findings of the study revealed dominant hegemonic masculine ideals within the institution that are shaping women coaches’ daily realities. For example, an emphasis on winning makes it difficult for women coaches to achieve work-life balance. The pervasive hegemonic masculine culture sustains taken for granted norms within Canadian university sport. Recommendations based on these findings include community building, coaching education that reflects current working realities, and action-based gender equity policies. The current normalized practices within Canadian university sport must continue to be challenged and reimagined, in order to better support both current and future women coaches in the field.
Finn, Hayley, "Exploring the Underrepresentation of Women Coaches in Canadian University Sport" (2022). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8476.