University of Minnesota

2013 Fall Newsletter

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Mary Jo KaneAs we highlight throughout this newsletter, we are celebrating the Tucker Center’s 20th anniversary this Fall. There are a number of events and initiatives that will honor this important milestone in our history. The first is our annual Distinguished Lecture which will take place on Tuesday, October 22nd. It will feature a number of individuals who played critical roles in establishing the Tucker Center and who helped us as we gained visibility and recognition. They supported us as we developed research projects, mentored graduate students, collaborated with Affiliated Scholars here at the U of M and around the globe, and engaged in community outreach. These individuals include President Emeritus Robert Bruininks—who was the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) when we were first introduced to Dr. Dorothy Tucker—and David Madson, who currently serves as the Director of Development for Neurosciences & Transplantation at California Pacific Medical Center Foundation in San Francisco. It was Mr. Madson who, as a Development Officer in CEHD in the early 1990s, worked with Dr. Tucker and brought together her financial generosity and wisdom with our vision to create an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to exploring how sport and physical activity impact the lives of girls and women in the wake of Title IX. For more details about our Fall lecture, click here. We look forward to seeing you there!

In addition to the Distinguished Lecture, we have embarked on two ground-breaking initiatives. The first involves a partnership with Twin Cities Public Television, TPT/Channel 2. We are producing a one-hour documentary on media coverage—or the lack thereof—devoted to women’s sports. Women Play Sports, Just Not in the Media explores the latest research on sport, media and gender—much of it conducted by Tucker Center scholars—as well as interviews with athletes (Maya Moore & Lindsay Whalen from the Lynx), coaches (the U of M’s Hugh McCutcheon & Meg Stephenson), and members of the local media (the Star Tribune’s Rachel Blount). Go to our Web site and Facebook page and Twitter feed to find out when the documentary will air this November. Our second initiative examines post-Title IX employment patterns for women coaches. See Research Updates for more details.

We are also celebrating our 20th anniversary by looking toward the future. “Tucker Center 2.0” begins with the launch of our new logo—check out the upper left corner of this page—that honors our past but has a more modern look. We are also re-designing our Web site. Read more about Tucker Center 2.0 and our new logo in Did You Know? Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the contributions of our outstanding Tucker Center summer interns—Elora Koepcke, Emma Leyden, and Brenda Senger—toward our anniversary efforts. They provided invaluable insights ranging from technical support on sport media to data analysis on the female coaches project. These young women are profiled in Staff Updates.

When we opened our doors in 1993, it never occurred to me that 20 years later I would be able to say with great pride and joy: Happy 20th Anniversary, Tucker Center!

—Mary Jo Kane, Director

by Dean Jean Quam and Director Li Li Ji

Dean Jean Quam   Director Li Li Ji

Dean Jean Quam


Director Li Li Ji


As many of you know, the summer of 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX. This Fall, the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), along with the School of Kinesiology, will honor and celebrate another important milestone related to girls and women in sport—the 20th anniversary of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport. The passage of Title IX in 1972 fundamentally and forever changed the landscape of women’s sports. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, 300,000 young women played high school sports in the early 1970s; today, that number has skyrocketed to over three million. Before Title IX, scholarships for sportswomen were virtually unheard of, but in 2013, 43% of all college athletes who receive scholarships are female. Similar trends were happening 20 years ago or two decades after the passage of Title IX. Then, as now, our country witnessed unprecedented opportunities for females who wished to participate in a variety of sports at all levels of competition. The return on this investment has paid off in remarkable ways. For example, on an international scale, U.S. women routinely dominate at the Olympic level—during the 2012 summer Games in London alone, female athletes captured 66% of all gold medals won by the American team. And after decades of being told that “females aren’t that interested in—let alone very good at—playing sports,” and that “no one would ever watch,” every March the Final Four in women’s basketball breaks attendance and viewership records.

The Tucker Center is dedicated to the philosophy—and practice—that conducting research which makes a difference in people's lives is the most important research of all.

What is critically different these days from 20 years ago is the existence of the Tucker Center. Prior to its establishment in 1993 as the first center on girls and women in sport housed in a major research university, there was very little scholarship from an interdisciplinary perspective that examined how such a dramatic increase in participation impacted the lives of females as well as their families and communities. Under the vision and leadership of Professor Mary Jo Kane, the Tucker Center came into being to address this significant gap in our knowledge base.

The Tucker Center acts as a magnet, attracting and mentoring the best and brightest U.S. and international graduate students. They receive their undergraduate degrees from small liberal arts colleges like the College of St. Catherine and from Ivy League schools such as Princeton and Yale. They then come to the U of M to earn their master’s and doctoral degrees under the guidance of Professor Kane and Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi, the Tucker Center’s Associate Director. These students also work with Tucker Center Affiliated Scholars who are faculty members in departments at the U of M ranging from Sociology and Epidemiology to the Medical School, and from other institutions around the country such as the Universities of Southern California, UMass-Amherst, and Purdue. These academics have brought a multidisciplinary approach to creating ground-breaking research on topics which cover sport media’s stereotypic treatment of female athletes along with enhancing girls’ self-esteem through their participation in sports. At the heart of the Tucker Center’s mission is a commitment to ensure that these important empirical findings are disseminated to other scholars and educators as well as policy makers, parents, administrators and the athletes themselves. The Tucker Center is dedicated to the philosophy—and practice—that conducting research which makes a difference in people’s lives is the most important research of all.

Over the last two decades the Tucker Center has brought international visibility and recognition to the School of Kinesiology, CEHD, and the U of M. For example, the Tucker Center enhances the strategic goals of our College, particularly in the areas of innovative research and community outreach. The contributions of the Tucker Center to the general mission of Kinesiology are deeply valued and respected. As the Tucker Center moves forward, we envision a rigorous growth in its role promoting and advancing the sociological, psychological, and physiological welfare of girls and women participating in sport and physical activity. Given its impressive reputation and accomplishments to date, the Center will continue to receive and enjoy all available resources from the College and School along with support from friends and donors.

Members of the Tucker Team have set a standard of excellence for developing research initiatives which have made significant contributions to our understanding of the role and impact of sports in the lives of girls and women. They have provided educational opportunities for students through fellowships and scholarships and they are deeply engaged in community outreach and public service. As a part of the 20th anniversary celebration this fall, the Tucker Center’s Distinguished Lecture will focus on how the Center came into being, highlight some of its major accomplishments, and provide a roadmap charting its course over the next 20 years (see page 4 for more details of the DLS). As the College Dean and School Director, we will be there taking pride in what the Tucker Center has done for all of us. See you in October!

Consistent with the cutting-edge research we have conducted over the last 20 years, the Tucker Center, in collaboration with the Alliance of Women Coaches, is producing a report on women in college coaching. The purpose of the project is to document the percentage of women coaches of women’s teams in big-time college athletics by sport, athletic conference, and academic institution in order track the effectiveness of initiatives aimed at reversing the decline of women in coaching in the wake of Title IX.

Sport is inextricably linked to the American ideal of meritocracy—that if you are good enough, work hard enough, and make sacrifices, you will have the opportunity to succeed. This has been a prevailing ideology for athletes, but does this same ideal apply to the coaching profession? And does it apply to all coaches both male and female? Based on the data in our report, as well as other data, the answer is a resounding, “NO!”

Opportunities for girls and women to participate in sports after the passage of Title IX is at an all-time high, but the percentage of females coaching women has declined to an all-time low. Women coaches in the 40 years following Title IX much less frequently occupy coaching positions within women’s athletics and rarely, if ever, are given opportunities to coach men. Conversely, men who desire to coach enjoy dual career tracks. For example, men currently occupy a majority of the coaching positions in both men’s and women’s college sport. Nearly all college male athletes are coached by men (96-98%), while less than half of college female athletes are coached by women (~40%). This is not to suggest that men should not coach women. Male and female athletes benefit from being coached by both men and women, but given the minority of women in coaching, this benefit often remains unrealized.

The key point is that the number of coaching jobs is at an all-time high, a record number of female athletes possess the knowledge and skills to coach, females comprise over 50% of the student body on college campuses, girls and young women state they value and need female role models, the number of women leaders in most all occupations is rising, and women are very interested in coaching. So why are the numbers of female college coaches in women’s sports declining? More importantly, what can be done to retain and increase the percentage of women who are in the coaching profession?

The first step in reversing this trend—which is the goal of this project—is to educate and increase awareness by documenting and tracking the percentage of women coaches of women’s teams in big-time college athletics. The second step is to use these data to motivate stakeholders and decision-makers to recruit, hire, and retain women coaches.

Toward that end, data from 76 schools in six NCAA Division-I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12, SEC) across all geographic regions of the U.S. were collected during the spring of 2013 via institutional athletic websites. A few key findings will be reported here. Based on preliminary data, women occupy less than half (48%) of all coaching positions. And as the position becomes more powerful and visible—from Director of Operations (69.8%) to Head Coach (40.8%)—women less frequently occupy those positions. The Big Ten conference had the most female head coaches (47%), while the conference with the fewest was the SEC (33%). Field Hockey (100%) had the highest percentage of female head coaches and Track & Field (8.8%) the lowest. By school, the employment of female head coaches varied dramatically, with the highest at Cincinnati (87.5%) and the lowest at Oklahoma State (0%). These data paint a compelling picture of employment patterns of coaches in big-time athletic departments and provide a road map for tracking and reversing the decline of women coaches.

Please visit the Alliance of Women Coaches Web site.

Alliance of Women Coaches logo

With 20 years behind us as the “first of its kind” research center, our work has evolved and so has our logo! Some of you might remember that initially we didn’t even have a logo and instead used a picture of a female runner to represent the TC (see image on left below). In 2006 we launched our first logo (see middle image) that incorporated our original image and helped the TC become visible and recognizable in digital and social media, as well as in our print materials. To celebrate our 20th anniversary we are refreshing our logo (see image on right) and Web site design, as well as launching “Tucker Center 2.0” in our 20th year of cutting edge research. In this newsletter you’ll see that our new “TC” logo retains portions of the old logo and integrates them into an updated look—We hope you’ll like it! We are also launching a new Tucker Center Web site. It will have a fresh look and easier navigation but will still contain the same great content, including a video archive of the past eight years of our Distinguished Lecture Series featuring top scholars on the hottest topics of the day pertaining to girls and women in sport.

Michelle Finn, 1992 Barcelona Olympics     Tucker Center Logo     Tucker Center 20th Anniversary Logo, 2013

This summer marked another successful TC internship program. We accepted three of the “best and brightest” who were funded through the newly established Internship Fund for Gender Equity in Sport.

TC Summer Interns 2013


Emma Leyden, Brenda Senger, and Elora Koepcke (left-to-right) worked collaboratively on a variety of research and programmatic projects, did exceptional work, gained valuable experience, and joined a growing list of distinguished intern alumni. Leyden, who will be a senior at Macalester College and returned for her second summer as a TC intern, said: “I loved how I was able to be involved in an array of projects all at once. My Tucker Center internship has given me more perspective on what sort of academic disciplines are available to study women and girls in sport.” Koepke, a 2013 graduate of the U of Wisconsin, stated of her experience: “My time at the Tucker Center has not only awarded me a glimpse into a one-of-a-kind research center, but has left me motivated and empowered to be an advocate for girls and women in sport. Ultimately, I feel like I have walked away with greater confidence in my career capabilities, and a sense of what missions I can strive toward.” Senger, a senior Kinesiology major at the U of M, remarked of her experience: “During my time at the Tucker Center I have learned more about how research projects are conducted and why working collaboratively makes the TC so unique. This internship will be extremely helpful as I apply to graduate school and to my career in sport, not only because of the meaningful work I produced but the relationships I made.” We are forever grateful for the great work these three early-career women produced and look forward to following them as they continue to make a difference in the world. For more information about our internship program, visit our Tucker Center Summer Internship Program page.

Honors & Awards

  • In 2013, TC Director Mary Jo Kane was named one of the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators” by the Institute for International Sport.
  • In July, TC Associate Director Nicole M. LaVoi was given the “Inspiring Women Award” by the WNBA Minnesota Lynx.
  • Last April, TC Affiliated Scholar Chelsey Thul won a Postdoctoral Research Award at the Pediatric Research, Education and Scholarship Symposium (PRESS) held at the U of M for her interdisciplinary work titled, “Disparities in Physical Activity among Minnesota Adolescents of Somali, other Non-Hispanic Black and White Race.” Co-authors include Marla Eisenberg, Nicole Larson, and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer from the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Public Health.
  • LaVoi, Thul, Dr. Elizabeth Bye (U of M, College of Design), and Fatimah Hussein were awarded a $121,659, 2-year research grant from the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) to conduct a 2-year interdisciplinary project, “Impact of Culturally Sensitive Apparel Design on the Physical Activity of East African Adolescent Girls.”
  • Affiliated Scholar Jo Ann Buysse will become the 5th woman ever inducted into the University of Montana, Montana Tech Hall of Fame. From 1982-86, Buysse coached both women’s basketball and volleyball to four consecutive conference championships.


  • Kane, LaVoi and TC Affiliated Scholar Janet Fink (UMass-Amherst) have two research studies in press. “The freedom to choose: Elite female athletes’ preferred representations within endorsement campaigns” will appear in the Journal of Sport Management, and a second paper titled, “Exploring elite female athletes’ interpretations of sport media images: A window into the construction of social identity and ‘selling sex’ in women’s sports” will be published in Communication & Sport.


  • Last April, Kane gave the Raymond A. Weiss Distinguished Lecture titled, “An Examination of Female Athletes’ Interpretations of Media Representations: A Window into the Construction of Dual Identity & ‘Selling Sex’ in Women’s Sports” at the annual meeting of AAHPERD in Charlotte, NC.
  • Over the summer LaVoi delivered sessions on motivational strategies at the NCAA Women Coaches Academy in both Denver and Atlanta, as well as a session on preventing coach burnout at “The Huddle” in June, the annual event of the Alliance of Women Coaches in Boston. Currently, LaVoi serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance.


  • Mark your calendars for two exciting upcoming TC Events! The 4th annual Tucker Center Film Festival will be held February 6, 2014 to celebrate National Girls & Women in Sport Day. Our theme this year is “Women in Coaching” and we are currently accepting submissions. On February 7, we are hosting our first-ever one-day Women Coaches Symposium that will feature prominent female coaches at all levels in all sports along with scholars, sport scientists, and members of the Alliance of Women Coaches. This event is for female coaches who want to learn from and network with other women. Don't forget to check back and register for this “don’t miss” event.

About the Lecture

To officially kick off our 20th Anniversary Celebration, we’re inviting you to a very special Fall Distinguished Lecture on October 22 at the Cowles Auditorium on the U of M West Bank Campus. This lecture brings together some of the key individuals who were instrumental in the Tucker Center’s inception; others who gave it form with support for a director, staff and physical space; and finally, the Tucker Center’s Director and Associate Director will take us through the breadth and depth of the TC’s accomplishments and impact over our 20 years of research, education and outreach. Brief bios of those participating in the Distinguished Lecture are presented below.

Robert H. Bruininks Jerry Fischer Mary Jo Kane Nicole M. LaVoi David Madson Michael G. Wade
Bruininks Fischer Kane LaVoi Madson Wade

About the Panelists

Robert H. Bruininks is President Emeritus of the University of Minnesota serving from 2002-11. President Bruininks is an internationally recognized scholar in the field of child and adolescent development and policy research, as well as strategic improvement in the fields of pre-kindergarten to grade 12 and higher education. He was named Minnesotan of the Year in 2003 by Minnesota Monthly, and in 2009, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal named him Executive of the Year.

Jerry Fischer is the former President and CEO of the U of M Foundation where he served from 1990–2008. He attended Yale University Divinity School on a Rockefeller Fellowship and received his MBA from the University of Michigan in 1968. He consults on major gift fundraising and board governance issues on behalf of the Association of Governing Boards of American Colleges and Universities. Mr. Fischer is a life trustee of the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan.

Mary Jo Kane is Professor and Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport in the School of Kinesiology at the U of M. She is the recipient of the first Endowed Chair in the nation related to women in sport: The Dorothy McNeill and Elbridge Ashcraft Tucker Chair for Women in Exercise Science & Sport. Professor Kane is a past recipient of the Scholar of the Year Award from the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Nicole M. LaVoi is the Associate Director of the Tucker Center and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Kinesiology at the U of M. Dr. LaVoi publishes research on many facets of gender and sport, is a nationally renowned speaker, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance of Women Coaches.

David Madson currently serves as Director of Development at the San Francisco-based California Pacific Medical Center Foundation. From 1986–95 Mr. Madson served as a Development Officer at the U of M’s College of Education and Human Development as well as the Masonic Cancer Center. After leaving the U of M, Mr. Madson was a Director of Development with the University of California, San Francisco.

Michael G. Wade is a faculty member in the School of Kinesiology at the U of M as well as a Governing Council member in the Center for Cognitive Science. Professor Wade is an internationally recognized scholar published extensively in the area of motor skill development across the life span. He holds Fellow status in the National Academy of Kinesiology, the highest academic honor in his field.