Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Robin L. Hardin

Committee Members

James H. Bemiller, J. Patrick Biddix, Steven N. Waller, Dara Worrell


Although sport participation for women and girls is at an all-time high in the United States, female coaches are widely underrepresented. In the sport of swimming at the collegiate level, women hold just 18% of the head coaching positions of women’s teams. A qualitative research design was implemented to examine the career experiences of NCAA Division I female swimming coaches. Twenty-one current and recently retired Division I female swimming coaches were interviewed regarding their career experiences. Analysis of the data produced three themes: (a) Sexism, (b) The Career Path, and (c) Life as a Coach-Mom. These findings indicate that female coaches experience sexism from a variety of sources in their profession. Additionally, in a changing landscape of fewer opportunities available for female coaches, women are increasingly relying on mentoring and professional development to better position themselves in a competitive work environment. Finally, coaches with children need a wide support system, but also find balance through motherhood. These findings may help current coaches and potential coaches navigate their careers, as well as administrators who can provide support for the coaches’ careers.

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