Women across the country have better career opportunities than ever before in many industries, but in the world of coaching, that is unfortunately not the case. Gender equity in coaching has continued to plateau and even decline across sports and this continues to be the case for soccer worldwide, where only 7% of coaches are female according to FIFA’s 2014 Women’s Football Survey. Here in the United States, the number is much higher at 21%, however the further in administrations you go, the less visible women are. According to the FIFA survey, women account for only 8% of the total number of executive committee and board members globally and that number is 19% here in the US.
The CEO of Girl Boss Sports, Sarah Wolfer, has been coaching for 15 years in several US states including Florida, Oregon, and Washington and has seen many of these issues firsthand. In one club, Sarah remembers looking at the website and seeing 13 Directors listed. Of those 13 directors, zero were women – including the Director of Coaching for Girls. Across the entire list of clubs and teams that Sarah has coached for, there has consistently been an extreme under-representation of female coaches (often Sarah has been the only female coach in a club or region), and this is something Girl Boss Sports aims to change. As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) having worked in social services in both Florida and Washington state, Sarah is not unfamiliar with other forms of discrimination and harassment that women face in the workplace in general. As almost any woman will tell you, there is still significant progress needed for women across industries and it was the culmination of these life experiences for Sarah that led to the creation of Girl Boss Sports.
There are many reasons for the current state of female coaches across sports, including but not limited to the sexism that has been dubbed “the glass sideline” by Dr. Jen Welter, who was the first woman to coach in the NFL and understands the challenges of coaching “in a man’s world.” Other factors adding to the lack of female coaches across sports include poor recruitment practices, discrimination in hiring, inaccessibility for moms to continue or begin coaching, and the direct result of the enactment of Title IX which began in 1972. Title IX was created to provide equitable opportunities for male and female athletes which led to increased progress in the sports world for girls and women, but this has had unintended consequences for female coaches.
While the number of female coaches has stagnated, the opposite is true for the number of girls participating in the sport worldwide as a result of this enactment. The United States and Canada account for almost half of the 4.8 million female soccer players registered globally which clearly illustrate the growth opportunity for women to enter and remain in the soccer coaching realm. However, as a result of the increase in funding being funneled to girls and women’s sports, men realized that this could be a lucrative and sustainable career opportunity for them as well. Add to that the double standard of it being socially acceptable for men to coach women’s sports but not as much for women to coach men’s sports, this has led to decreased opportunities for women to secure coaching positions across sports.
With this room to grow, Girl Boss Sports is working to increase the number of female coaches through specialized training, ongoing support, and a flexible schedule to meet the needs of women coaching soccer, starting first here in Seattle, WA. If you are a current or former athlete and are interested in applying to be a soccer coach in the Seattle area, head to our “Apply to Coach” page – (new or experienced coaches may apply). **We are currently hiring in the following regions: Seattle, Shoreline, Renton, Kent, Bellevue, and Tacoma.**
Girl Boss Sports also believes that girls can achieve more in sports and in life when they have coaches and role-models to look up to who understand the unique challenges that female athletes face. In addition to soccer specific skill development, we also work on leadership, communication, and social skills that are necessary in sports and over the lifespan. The CEO of Girl Boss Sports, Sarah Wolfer, explains that it was her experience as an athlete and as a coach that prepared her to stand up to discrimination and harassment that she has faced over the years in many industries and even recalls the experience of securing equal pay for herself at one such agency. “It took a lot of courage to stand up to issues like this, that we women face.” Sarah went on to state that “I strongly believe that the leadership and communication skills I learned as an athlete beginning at a young age helped me learn to be assertive as a woman and leader in the workplace.” Sarah also points to the positive female role-models that she has had throughout her life, playing a vital role in her development as an athlete and a woman in this society. It is because of this experience and so many others, that here at Girl Boss Sports, we believe that “you can be what you can see” and empower our clients through personalized soccer lessons with an all-female coaching staff.
If you are ready to get started, head to our “Services” page for additional package information.
Girl Boss Sports is changing the game for female athletes and coaches alike and we hope that you will join our community and see the many benefits of “playing like a girl.” To stay up to date with the newest happenings at Girl Boss Sports, join our email list.
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