Taylor Imeson wants to see more women in head coaching positions.
Not only would it provide female athletes with same-sex mentors, but she says it would inspire future generations of female coaches to pursue the career.
"I had always noticed that women's sports were growing, but there were barely any female coaches," says Imeson.
"Participants felt they had the necessary skills and self-efficacy to coach, however, due to various reasons, a majority did not identify coaching as a career aspiration."
The Master of Human Kinetics graduate utilized an online survey and focus group sessions with U Sports athletes, (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport) to study the influence of coaches and their aspirations to coach as a career.
As a medium-sized city, Imeson says Windsor has many sports programs for females at competitive and recreational levels, and yet there are still few women holding leadership positions.
"Female athletes weren't seeing women in these positions and overcoming the barriers women feel in sport," says Imeson.
"Male coaches would be supportive of athletes pursuing coaching but didn't really understand the barriers."
UWindsor graduate student Taylor Imeson is studying the absence of female coaches in sport.
Imeson says barriers to female athletes in sports can include an unequal assumption of competence, hiring from a principle of similarity, lack of female mentors, perfectionism, lack of assertiveness, inhibition in promotion of accomplishments and high stress of balancing work and life.
"In a number of instances, study participants suggested that intimidation by males or lack of support from their male counterparts discouraged them from becoming a coach," says Imeson.
"There's also a lack of support from female coaches in some instances because they felt they worked hard with little help so why can't the next woman?"
While having a female coach does positively influence athletes, Imeson's research shows that educating coaches of both genders is most beneficial.
"Women are so used to having male coaches that many didn't really consider what it'd be like to have a female coach," she says.
"Educating coaches of both genders on how to guide females into coaching as a career is really needed."
In addition to those programs, Imeson says athletes should have better access to coaching resources.
"It is clear that athletes need to be educated about available programs to help them become coaches," says Imeson.
"Developing a program that creates awareness for athletes who may not be considering coaching could be a vital tool to increase the number of females in coaching and leadership roles."
- Dylan Kristy