Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Vicki Rosser

Number of Pages



Since Title IX was signed into law in 1972, opportunities for females to participate in collegiate sport have increased tremendously. But these advancements have not held true for women head coaches in collegiate sport. For female head coaches, in fact, the inverse has resulted. Whereas prior to 1972, women led most collegiate women's athletic teams, today the majority of women's collegiate athletic teams are led by men. Previous researchers have pointed to the existence of a relationship between heterosexism and the decline of women coaches, but prior to this study, little or no empirical research on lesbian head coaches' perceptions of the role of heterosexism in this decline was available; Either currently or previously employed as head coaches at universities across the United States, eight female NCAA division one head coaches of women's sport who self-identified as lesbian participated in in-depth interviews in order to better understand their experiences and perceptions on heterosexism and the decline of women head coaches; Utilizing feminist standpoint theory as the conceptual framework, this research sought to understand those who have been marginalized under the patriarchal and heteronormative environment of collegiate sport. The interview questions focused on the participants' experiences with recruiting, hiring processes, career intentions, social/outside of work functions, and their perceptions of the role of heterosexism in the decline; The participants ranged in age from 32 to 54 and as a group and have coached for an average of 15 years. A majority of the participants perceive heterosexism to play a role in the decline of female collegiate head coaches. The themes were ordered according to their prevalence and level of repetition amongst participants. They include: (1) coaches perceptions of the role of heterosexism in the decline, (2) the impact of heterosexism on lesbian coaches' upward mobility, (3) barriers for women in coaching, (4) factors contributing to lesbian coaches' decisions to be out, open, or closeted, (5) progression of general climate, (6) positive experiences for out coaches, (7) from connections to success, and (8) former coaches desire to return to coaching. Implications for research, policy, and practice are discussed in the final chapter.


Coaches; College; Collegiate Sport; Decline; Heterosexism; Lesbian; Perceptions; Role; Sport; Women; Women Coaches

Controlled Subject

Education, Higher; Women's studies; Physical education and training; Sex--Social aspects; Recreation

File Format


File Size

3266.56 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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