Athletic Directors Must Confront Double Standard Used for Female Employees

Athletic Directors Must Confront Double Standard Used for Female Employees

Julie Sommer, Executive Director of The Drake Group Education Fund (TDGEF), has called upon higher education leaders, coaches, and athletic directors, to confront “the epidemic of unfair treatment of female coaches and administrators in college athletic programs.”

“We must confront the reality that female coaches and administrators are still being unfairly treated because of their sex, sexual orientation, and age,” said Sommer. “They are being asked to conform to female stereotypes of behavior not applied to their male counterparts.”

For Sommer and TDGEF, nowhere is this more evident than in recruiting, facility, and staffing budgets for women coaches and women’s sports—a Title IX disparity only worsening as athletic program money shifts from general support to athlete marketplace “collectives” targeted overwhelmingly in support of male athletes and sports.

“Women coaches are not provided with the same recruiting or scholarship budgets, well paid assistant coaches, or other resources but are required to demonstrate the same athletic success,” said Sommer. “If they express Title IX gender equity concerns, too often they are treated as trouble-makers and less likely to have their contracts renewed. If they are wrongly terminated and sue, they are often blackballed from future employment. With 90 percent of colleges and universities not in compliance with Title IX, and averse to litigation risk, many won’t take a chance on a strong female employee willing to stand up for her rights.”

Sommer and TDGEF recommend both better training for administrators and university officials as well as more support for women coaches and women’s athletics generally to address these disparities and make good-faith progress toward Title IX compliance.

“We need system-wide reforms and adoption of hiring and retention practices that develop women’s leadership in college sports,” said Sommer. “We also urge coaching organizations and professional groups such as Women Leaders in Sports to develop support groups and resources for counseling and legal assistance to women suffering under the current double standards and often unmanageable expectations.”

Sommer urged athletics leaders to watch the recent TDGEF webinar featuring top attorneys assisting women coaches and administrators through challenges all too common in collegiate athletics.