University of Minnesota

Distinguished Lecture Series

The Borghild-Strand Distinguished Lecture series is given twice yearly and exemplifies the Tucker Center’s commitment to community outreach and public education by making links to the Twin Cities metro and outstate areas. It provides a venue for the most influential individuals in women’s sports to share their knowledge and expertise. The Spring lecture is also sponsored through the Edith Mueller Park and Recreation Memorial Award.


2016 Fall Distinguished Lecture

Paradox, Pitfalls & Parity:
Where Have all the Women Coaches Gone?


Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 7:00-9:00pm
Cowles Auditorium, Hubert H. Humphrey Center
University of Minnesota West Bank Campus

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About the Lecture

A puzzling paradox exists when it comes to women occupying sport leadership positions—particularly coaches. Two generations removed from Title IX, female sports participation is at an all-time high, yet the number of women coaches is near an all-time low. At the college level alone, female coaches are in the minority, representing just 43% of all head coaching positions in women’s sports nationwide. It is simply not possible that as each new generation of females becomes increasingly involved in and shaped by their sport experience—especially at the most elite levels of competition as evidenced by the dominance of the U.S. female athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics—they simultaneously become less qualified to enter the coaching profession. So where have all the women coaches gone and why does this paradox matter? Research indicates that far from being less qualified, women are discouraged, impeded or locked out of coaching due to discriminatory beliefs, policies and practices. This has profound and damaging results: Same-sex role models are highly beneficial and while research shows that nearly 100% of male athletes enjoy a male coach role model, many girls and women never benefit from having a female coach. Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi examines this “coaching paradox” by highlighting systemic gender discrimination, unfair double standards, and both explicit and unconscious gender bias in the hiring process. She will also address the significant implications that result from the dramatic decline of women in the coaching profession and offer strategies for recruiting and retaining females coaches.

About the Speaker

Nicole M. LaVoi, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer in the area of social and behavioral sciences in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota, where she is also the Co-director of the Tucker Center. Dr. LaVoi is one of the nation’s leading scholars who has published extensively on the occupational landscape of women coaches. She has authored and collaborated on numerous research reports, scholarly journal articles, and book chapters—including the annual Women in College Coaching Report Card—and the groundbreaking edited book, Women in Sports Coaching. As an award-winning teacher and sought-after public scholar, Dr. LaVoi speaks on issues related to recruiting, hiring and retaining female coaches, and was recently named by Yahoo! Finance as one of the top "6 Women in the Sports Business World You Should Follow." She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance of Women Coaches and is a member of the teaching faculty for the NCAA Women Coaches Academy.

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Previous lectures

Our Distinguished Lecture archive is available here. The archive includes abstracts, multimedia assets, powerpoints, and related materials.