Friday, October 7, 2011

AVCA Director: "We don't have a lot of good solutions"

DeBoer says the AVCA Board spent time this spring discussing the findings in the NCAA’s May 2011 Report, Race and Gender Demographics 2009-2010. The report found that the percentage of female head coaches in Division 1 volleyball has plummeted, from 62% in 1995, to 47% last season. No other D1 women’s team sport has experienced anything close to this gender shift.

Kathy DeBoer, Executive Director
American Volleyball Coaches Assoc.
“We are all in agreement on the problem,” DeBoer wrote this afternoon, “but I’ll be frank, we don’t have a lot of good solutions.”

DeBoer says college administrators call her “at least 20 times a year,” looking for good female volleyball coaching candidates. But, she says, the demand for qualified women coaches is greater than the supply.

The biggest problem, DeBoer writes, is that women have a harder time than men negotiating the traditional path to the highest-profile jobs.
“Many women start in coaching but not very many will make the 3-4 moves necessary to get the top jobs or want to go to the low end jobs, so we have trouble recruiting and retaining women at both the top and the bottom in DI. Adding a spouse and kids also changes the equation dramatically for women, and not as much for men.”

 DeBoer says she sees the same trend among assistant coaches, “and that’s really scary as it doesn’t bode well for reversing this trend going forward.”

AVCA’s members are volleyball coaches, both male and female, so DeBoer isn’t in a position to lobby against opportunities for female coaches at the expense of males. That said, there is a growing realization in virtual all sports, professional and intercollegiate, that diversity is a strength, and that potentially outstanding coaches might never surface unless they have the tools to manage additional responsibilities (like raising a family) or overcoe entrenched biases (based on race, gender, orientation, disability, etc.)

“We offer training every couple of years at our convention on interviewing, and ‘how to sell yourself’”, DeBoer writes, “but these aren’t the primary things keeping women from getting the jobs.”

“Mostly, it seems, women are harder to move.”

“This is an issue an issue for our Board and for me personally, so we are certainly open to suggestions for programming. We have a Coaches-4-Coaches scholarship fund funded by our members and a Minority Coaches scholarship fund funded by the NCAA. Both of these programs focus on females and we have a bunch of success stories, just not nearly enough!”

AVCA holds its annual national convention in conjunction with the women’s D1 Final Four, this year in San Antonio. Volleyblog Seattle will be there. (And, a reminder, the Final Four will be in Seattle in 2013.)

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