Social Influences in Intercollegiate Athletic Administration

Four years ago the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship Grant Program selected me to be an intern at Crown College in the Department of Athletics. When I started at Crown I was the only female in the athletic department of 20 employees. Anyone looking into the offices of an intercollegiate athletic department will find that the majority of the senior-level administration positions are held by white males. Because of that, I decided to focus my research for my Master’s of Organizational Leadership thesis on better understanding the different social influences that affect women from advancing into senior-level administrative positions in NCAA Division III intercollegiate athletic administration. Is the female presence lacking due to the choice of family or career? Utilizing knowledge gained from previous studies on this topic, I created a quantitative survey and sent it out to a sample group from ten NCAA Division III conferences. Sixty-five female athletic administrators volunteered to participate. Analysis of these responses produced several interesting results.

First of all, the survey demonstrated that there are many women seeking advancement into senior-level athletic administration and that these women can have a family and a career. The study also showed that women in athletic administration tend to remain in athletic administration; the survey results indicated that a majority of participants have been in athletic administration anywhere between 3-5 years.

One interesting finding from the survey showed that the most statistically significant factor that negatively affects women in senior-level athletic administration is gender-typing; meaning that women often get side-tracked because they are assigned more “typically female” tasks such as clerical work or care-taking. On the positive side, results indicated that women agreed they had many opportunities to receive professional development in their career path and that they have similar set expectations (as males) for producing results in their field. The study’s findings demonstrated that women are happy at their current positions and feel that they are encouraged to seek advancement opportunities.

Overall, this research study confirmed that NCAA Division III athletic departments continue to lack gender diversity and that the majority of athletic directors are male, with typically one or two female senior-level administrators. With gender equity remaining in the forefront of major issues in senior-level positions in the overall career world, this study also noted that some women may choose their family over their career when met with the choice. Gender equity will most likely always be an issue; however, increased knowledge and awareness of the benefits that come from having a diverse organization continues to prove advantageous for most organizations.

Heading back to my alma mater was an exciting adventure; then after finding that women in athletic administration were somewhat rare, my position and career goals started to change due to more peaked interest and acceptance of the challenge. Going into my 5th year here at Crown College Athletics, I have now gained the title of Assistant Athletic Director of Operations and hold the designation for Senior Women Administrator and hope to maintain this position for some time if in God’s plans.

Danielle Hall completed her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership at Crown College in 2014.

Written by Danielle Hall