News & Podcast
2022 Spring Tucker Center Newsletter
Summer greetings from the Tucker Team. As you receive this newsletter, like many of you, we are fully engaged in honoring and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX! It is a special time for us, as The Tucker Center would not exist if not for Title IX. Our founder Mary Jo Kane was inspired by Title IX to form a “first of its kind” center that would take seriously the academic study of girls and women in sport. Listen to this episode of our Tucker Center Talks podcast where I speak with Dr. Kane about the TC origin story.
For close to three decades, we have led research, thought leadership, public scholarship, outreach, and educational efforts to stimulate and accelerate improving the lives of girls and women in and through sport. We are encouraged and edified by the overwhelming support and recognition the anniversary of Title IX has stimulated across a variety of stakeholders. We love that so many entities are drawing attention to—and celebrating—what we do and are committed to every day! Celebration and recognition is warranted, yet as history informs us, we must remain vigilant to retain the law and its intent, and continue to fight for equality and real systemic changes so that all girls and women are provided opportunities to play, and feel valued, safe, and supported when they do so. Read about the purpose of a new initiative we are launching, The Untold Stories of Women in Sport, and watch our first Untold Story featuring Peg Brenden.
A landmark anniversary is also a wonderful time to highlight our efforts and the good work we and our affiliates are undertaking. First and foremost, good work is done by good people and herein you’ll read about the many Kudos, Awards and Presentations of current and former Tucker Team members—students, faculty, and affiliated scholars. Notably, our Staff Update features TC research assistant Hannah Silva-Breen. June also marks the start of our Summer Gender Equity Internship and Borton Fellowship and the new cohort will be profiled in our next newsletter. However, you can all read about our internship and fellowship program and the impact its making in the Spring 2022 issue of CEHD's Connect magazine (p.11 in the paper copy).
In this newsletter you will read about our ongoing and most recent endeavors, and there are many to report in our Research Updates. Of note is the 10th anniversary of our hallmark Women in College Coaching Report Card™ which will be released next week (keep your eyes out for a separate email!) and our new report, DisruptHERS: Driving A New Model for Women's Sport. The recap of the April in-person return of the Women Coaches Symposium is also highlighted.
As we celebrate and honor Title IX here in the United States, let’s continue to support one another, connect, collaborate, and innovate, because together we can create meaningful and sustained systems change for girls and women in sport around the world. If you would like to invest in and support our work, learn about the many opportunities to do so on our Giving page at our website. Make sure to stay apprised of all things Tucker Center via TuckerCenter.org and all our social media channels @TuckerCenter and be sure to subscribe to our new YouTube channel!
Give yourself grace, support others, and let the data tell the story.
Nicole M. LaVoi, Ph.D.
Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport
To honor and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX we are launching a new initiative: The Untold Stories of Women in Sport. Untold Stories will create awareness and highlight the efforts and achievements of pioneering women in sport that were made possible due to Title IX. Yet they are underappreciated, marginalized, and rendered invisible to the vast majority of society. If our young girls can’t see her, how can they aspire to be her? If our young boys can’t see her, how do they grow to appreciate that women can be their equals and even their leaders?
A primary way to raise awareness, overcome challenges, and achieve equity is through the power of storytelling. Personal stories combined with reputable data is a proven strategy to help those in power recognize the need for change and begin to take action.
In 1972, Peg Brenden won a federal lawsuit that challenged the boys-only makeup of the tennis team at St. Cloud Technical High School in Minnesota. She and Toni St. Pierre, a junior at Hopkins Eisenhower and the other plaintiff in the case, wanted to compete with the boys’ teams because their schools didn’t offer girls’ teams. That same year, the U.S. Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendment Act, which prohibited gender discrimination in educational institutions. Upon appeal, the court’s decision would make it clear that athletics qualified as an educational opportunity to be governed by the requirements of Title IX. Sheri Brenden, Peg’s sister, has written Peg's story in Minnesota History Magazine, and will publish a full-length book (Break Point) with the University of Minnesota Press in December of 2022.
- Hannah Silva-Breen, TC research assistant, successfully defended her MS thesis: The Development and Psychometric Testing of the Coach Self-Efficacy Body Image Scale.
- TC director Nicole M. LaVoi was elected to the Board of Trustees for her alma mater (‘91), Gustavus Adolphus College.
- Austin Stair Calhoun, TC Team alum and affiliated scholar, was appointed the Vice President for Advancement &s; Communications at Saint Paul College in St. Paul, MN.
- LaVoi (above r.) and summer intern (‘21) and UMN Kinesiology major Maxine Simons (above l.) were on the cover of CEHD's Spring/Summer 2022 Connect magazine which did a full feature on the TC Gender Equity Summer Internship, the Borton Fellowship, and our history and research.
- Dunja Antunovic, an assistant professor of sport sociology in the School of Kinesiology and TC affiliated scholar, became an affiliated faculty member with the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota and joined the Research in Strategic Communication lab group.
- In late March, the Tucker Center hosted a group of visiting basketball coaches from Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan [pictured above] for a seminar on girls and women in sport as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Visitor Program. Topics of discussion included shifting cultural perceptions surrounding girls playing sports as well as the far-reaching physical and psychological benefits of sport for girls, and creating a supportive climate for girls in sports.
- On May 23, Alicia Johnson, a former Tucker Center intern (‘09) and current director of the University of Oshkosh-Wisconsin’s Women’s Center, gave a presentation at the UN WOMEN Ending Violence Against Women Section Conference, “Victory over Violence: Addressing Violence against Women and Girls in & Through Sports.” Dr. Johnson participated in a panel presentation entitled “Comprehensive Essential Services and Support for Survivors.”
- In honor of the NCAA Women’s Final Four held in Minneapolis, the TC was gifted $10,000 by Delta Dental to support our work on girls and women in sport.
- Antunovic was awarded the 2022 CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle Rising Star Award. Read more about her research in the press release.
- In honor of the anniversary of Title IX, the MN Lynx will honor the Tucker Center and Founder and Kinesiology professor emerita Mary Jo Kane with the “Inspiring Woman Award” during a June 23 game at Target Center.
- Anna Posbergh, who recently defended her dissertation at the University of Maryland, will join the School of Kinesiology and the TC this fall as she was awarded the UMN Office for Equity and Diversity President's Postdoctoral Fellowship.
- In conjunction with the SuperBowl in Los Angeles, LaVoi participated on a panel about women’s sport for the Gatorade Women’s Advisory Board along with Head of Brand Strategy for Gatorade Carolyn Braff, ESPN’s Sarah Spain, and Olympian Abby Wambach.
- In February, Hannah Silva-Breen and Efrat Abadi, TC research assistants, presented at the Midwest Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium (MSEPS) and at the School of Kinesiology Research Day. Silva-Breen talked about the development of psychometric testing of the coach self-efficacy body image scale, and Abadi presented her research project on girls’ preferences regarding coach behaviors. LaVoi also gave the keynote at MSEPS on developing a research agenda on gender and sport.
- In March, LaVoi, who was part of the NCAA Women’s Final Four local organizing committee, was a part of numerous panel discussions and events (USA Basketball, 3M, Tourney Town, Sleep Number Host House, MPR, Mall of America) held in conjunction with the tournament.
- Antunovic founded the Media Analysis Research in International Sport (MARIS) research group. Members of the group include Lauren Cattapan, Hokeun Choi, Sam Dreher, Lindsey Lehrfeld and Meg Messer, who are undergraduate students in the School of Kinesiology. The group presented a paper titled “’So Proud of You’: Gender Equality, Nationality, and Visibility of Disability in Olympic and Paralympic Media” at the CEHD Research Day and the Kinesiology Research Day.
- In April, LaVoi and director emerita Kane gave keynotes at local St. Paul and Minneapolis Athena Awards, respectively.
- On April 30, LaVoi gave a keynote at Pomona Pitzer College Alumni Day on Title IX and Women’s Sport.
- In May, LaVoi (pictured below) presented a Power Talk at the espnW NYC Summit, and also gave a talk on “Strategies for Navigating the Coaching Profession for Women” and “Becoming a Moral Exemplar Coach” to the WeCOACH Women Coaches Academies in Denver.
- In June, Antunovic presented two papers at the 72nd annual conference of the International Communication Association in Paris, France. The first paper titled “‘Reimagining’ Gender Equality: Towards a Transnational Framework for Olympic Sports Media Research” examines how empirical evidence informs media guidelines issued by entities such as the International Olympic Committee and the European Broadcasting Union on issues of gender equality. The second paper titled “‘Our Region, Many Voices: Sport Media Research in Central and Eastern Europe” draws on cross-national comparative media studies frameworks to examine regional complexities of sport media practices in Central and Eastern Europe.
- Incoming TC doctoral student, Fulbright Scholar, and former summer intern (‘21) Anna Goorevich conducted a workshop on June 13 with her Masters advisor Dr. Sarah Zipp (University of Sterling, Scotland) in Lausanne, Switzerland at the IOC on the Power To Play Period initiative, which helps sport stakeholders create supportive, inclusive education on menstrual health in sport. Zipp and Goorevich have also written two pieces for the International Working Group (IWG) Insight Hub, “The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Teenage Girls’ Lives and Physical Activity” and “Women Win Foundation - Sport for Development with Girls.”
- LaVoi and Antunovic will present at the 8th IWG World Conference on Women &s; Sport in Auckland, New Zealand, held November 14-17, 2022
- A Tucker Center project funded by the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Penn State University examines how professional women’s sports organizations use digital media to take a stand on social issues. Affiliated scholar Antunovic and research assistant Kim Soltis (undergraduate student in Kinesiology) presented a paper titled “‘To build a more just society’: WNBA teams’ uses of digital platforms for advocacy and community relations” at the 2022 Kinesiology Research Day. The paper is also accepted to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference in Detroit in August, 2022. Tucker Center Director LaVoi, and affiliated scholars Ann Pegoraro, Ceyda Mumcu, Nancy Lough, and Katie Lebel are co-authors on the project.
- Tucker Center scholars and director LaVoi continue to be highly sought after for their expertise by the media, including the New York Times, CBS News, Sport Illustrated, MPR, and NBC Sports, to name a few.
Hannah Silva-Breen first joined the Tucker Team as a Gender Equity Summer intern during the summer of 2017, and returned for the summer of 2018. After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College with a BA in psychology and exercise physiology, she worked at The Emily Program: Anna Westin House, gaining hands-on clinical experience. Silva-Breen has also coached club basketball in the Twin Cities Metro area for 10-plus years with the Minnesota Suns. In the fall of 2020, Silva-Breen rejoined the Tucker Team to pursue a Masters in kinesiology with a focus on sport and exercise psychology. For her MS thesis, Silva-Breen developed and validated a new scale aimed at measuring the self-efficacy of sport coaches on recognizing, supporting, and preventing body image concerns among athletes (Coach Body Image Self-Efficacy Scale). Since graduating in May, Silva-Breen has accepted the Borton Fellowship for the Promotion of Girls and Women in Sport Leadership this summer to continue supporting Tucker Center research agendas such as the 2022 Women in College Coaching Report Card.
In the fall of 2022, she will begin a doctoral program at West Virginia University (WVU) in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology while simultaneously pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Silva-Breen’s ultimate goal is to earn a position at a university teaching, conducting research, and providing counseling services for athletes with disordered eating, eating disorders, and other mind-body issues. She states of her time in the TC, “I am so thankful to be a part of the Tucker Center where I loved the work I was doing as well as the people I was doing it with. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities to learn and be a part of something so much bigger than myself.” We know Silva-Breen will continue to make a difference for girls and women in sport, and we thank her as a valuable member of the Tucker Team!
In March, the Tucker Center, in collaboration with a multidisciplinary international team of affiliated scholars, released a new report, “DisruptHERS: Driving A New Model for Women’s Sport,” that has been very well received and downloaded more than 2,000 times.
For decades, scholars and advocates of women’s sport have called for a change in how women’s sport is marketed, sponsored, endorsed, promoted, covered, invested in, capitalized upon, and broadcast. Women’s sport has deserved equal resources, yet has not been provided adequate investment, which is then used as a false narrative depicting women’s sport as not as lucrative, successful, or popular as men’s sport—a classic chicken-egg circular argument. Due to a multitude of factors, unprecedented disruption is occurring in women’s sport, specifically among women athletes.
Read about these disruptions and recommendations for accelerating systems change for women’s sport, join in disrupting sport by using the hashtag #DisruptHERS, and download the report here: https://z.umn.edu/tc-disruptHERSreport.
- The Tucker Center in collaboration with the Centre for Appearance Research have developed a new, groundbreaking online education program for coaches of adolescent girls. If you are a current coach of adolescent (11-17 year old) girls and are interested in being the first to test out this program, complete an eligibility survey here. Participants will be compensated $25 for their time, effort, and insights! If you have questions about this program or are unsure if you qualify, please email research coordinator Hannah Silva-Breen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- This summer the Tucker Team will be collaborating with the United States Tennis Association on a research project to assess barriers and support for women tennis coaches and teaching professionals, as well as identify pathways for women into positions of leadership in tennis.
- Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi, TC director, and TC research assistant Hannah Silva-Breen, MS, published an article in the Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, “Longitudinal Analysis of Head Coach Turnover of Women’s NCAA D-I Teams.” The article examines the longitudinal data for the Tucker Center’s Women in College Coaching Report Card.
- Two TC affiliated scholars recently published a new book! Dr. Dunja Antunovic (University of Minnesota) and Dr. Cheryl Cooky’s (Purdue University) book is titled Serving Equality: Feminism, Media, and Women's Sports. Serving Equality illustrates how feminism informs not only the media narratives of women’s sports, but how women’s sports contribute to and mobilize feminism in networked media spaces.
- Antunovic recently co-authored two chapters. The first chapter is titled “Sports Fans Hunt for Women’s Games: Beyond News Media Coverage” in the Routledge Handbook of Sports Fans and Fandom. The chapter identifies structural barriers for fan engagement in women’s sports and provides insight into the role of digital platforms in creating space as well as eroding fandom. The second chapter is “Social Media, Digital Technology, and Sport Media” in an edited book titled Sport, Social Media, and Digital Technology: Sociological Approaches. The chapter provides a conceptual review of nearly 80 scholarly publications to identify how structures, journalistic practices, cultural norms, and audience interactions shape ideologies about gender, race, sexuality, religion, and disability in the sport media industry.
- Antunovic also published two co-authored journal articles that examine digital media coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. One article, titled “Sport, gender, and national interest during the Olympics: A comparative analysis of media representations in Central and Eastern Europe,” can be found in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport. The second article is titled “A public service? Mediatization of the Olympic Games in Croatia and Slovenia” in Communication & Sport. These two journal articles observe that the mediatization process in the region is delayed, identify nation-specific emphasis on sports with previous success in each country, and problematize gender imbalances in coverage.
The 2021-2022 Women in College Coaching Report Card™ (WCCRC) marks the 10th year of our collaboration with WeCOACH. Data in this report and over the last ten years of the WCCRC documents longitudinal patterns of percentages of women head coaches within NCAA Division-I athletics. Data this year points to some good news!
First, the data indicate that the percentage of women head coaches of NCAA D-I women’s teams in Select 7 conferences is up again (43.7%) for the eighth year in a row, and for the fourth year in a row for all NCAA D-I women’s teams (43.4%). Second, the data is headed in the right direction—UP! Third, the percentage of women head coaches in the Select 7 conferences went up by the largest margin (1.3%) in the history of the WCCRC! Lastly, for the first time in 10 years, the number of women head coaches hired to replace outgoing coaches was greater than the number of men hired.
- 23 of 359 (6.4%) NCAA D-I institutions earned an A grade (70%+ of women head coaches of women’s teams), up from 20 last year.
- Institutional leader: University of Rhode Island (90% Women Head Coaches of Women Teams)
- Conference leader: Ivy League (56.4%)
- Sport leader: Lacrosse (90.8%); Emerging NCAA sports: Acrobatics (100%)
Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)
- Based on the data, women coaches of color are vastly underrepresented (7.3%) as head coaches of women's teams.
- Of the 104 BIPOC coaches hired, 50 (48.1%) were women.
- Five institutions at the time of data collection (Alabama A&M, Southern University at Baton Rouge, South Carolina State, Alcorn State, and Mississippi Valley State) had 100% BIPOC head coaches, while 98 institutions had 0% BIPOC head coaches.
- The top five sports in which women coaches of color were represented as head coaches were: basketball (n=81, 22.7%), volleyball (n=42, 12.3%), tennis (n=26, 8.5%), track and field (n=28, 8%), and softball (n=20, 6.7%).
- For NCAA D-I conferences, the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) had 89.4% and the Summit League had 7.7% BIPOC head coaches of women's teams.
Despite the good news, opportunities for change exist. First, the percentage of women head coaches is increasing very slowly. At this rate of increase averaging 0.4% a year, we will not reach 50% of women head coaches in this report for another 17 years and will not reach pre-Title IX levels (90%) of head coaches of women’s intercollegiate teams for 117 years. Second, women coaches of color remain dramatically underrepresented. A large number of institutions and one conference (Big 12) employed zero coaches of color, which does not reflect the racial composition of the student athletes.
To see which institutions, sports, and conferences receive passing and failing grades, and read more about systemic factors and impact, read the full report here: http://z.umn.edu/tc-wccrc-10th.
On Friday, April 22nd, the Tucker Center hosted the 7th Annual 2022 Women Coaches Symposium (WCS). The 2020 and 2021 WCS events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we were excited to welcome more than 200 coaches, administrators, and student athletes for a day of networking and high-quality educational programming to Huntington Bank Stadium. Read a short recap here, and a longer recap below.
The 2022 WCS was also the second time we provided two different program tracks: Coach/Administrator, or Student-Athlete. Both tracks offered breakout sessions most relevant to the attendee. For example, on the student-athlete track we heard from Her Next Play on identifying and harnessing your own superpower, and Premier Sport Psychology on how to create wellness and performance within a high-pressure environment. Coaches and administrators heard from a WeCOACH panel on implementing inclusion, how to foster a healing-centered sport environment, strategies on how to create a body positive climate free of gender stereotypes, as well as mentoring and leaving a legacy. All attendees learned and were inspired by our keynote speakers, the Minnesota Aurora FC coaching staff, Dr. Jen Fry, and Stephanie Wheeler.
Stephanie Wheeler (pictured here) was this year’s Jean K. Freeman Keynote. Wheeler is the head coach of women’s wheelchair basketball at the University of Illinois, Paralympic gold medalist, World Championship gold medalist, and collegiate national champion. She has conducted wheelchair basketball camps across the country and around the world; has consulted with the NCAA on inclusion of athletes with disabilities; and is actively involved with long-term athlete and coach development for wheelchair basketball at all levels in the U.S. In her keynote, she shared how she creates a culture of inclusion and why it matters to her.
During the WCS, we announced our three Coach of the Year (COY) awards. Sponsored by Jostens, the COY awards recognize coaches who care about their athletes holistically, strive for performance excellence, are committed to giving back, and honor the game by displaying good sport behavior. The WCS 2022 COY awards were bestowed to coaches in three categories: youth category, Faith Johnson Patterson; collegiate category, Kristen Stets; and high-performance category, Cheryl Reeve.
The ultimate purpose of the WCS is to provide high-quality educational programming, build community among female coaches, and recruit, retain, and support women in the coaching profession. The WCS is a partnership between the Tucker Center, WeCOACH, and Gopher Athletics. This year’s event was also supported by many community partners and sponsors including Premier Sport Psychology, Sport Bigs, TRIA Women’s Sport Medicine Program, Jostens, the Sports Bra Project, Training HAUS, the Power House, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Her Next Play, and Find My Team.
Mark your calendars for the 2023 Women Coaches Symposium happening April 21, 2023 at Huntington Bank Stadium!