Coach Nancy Lieberman has 22 years of coaching experience in the WNBA, NBA, NBA G League and the newly established BIG3 League where she is the Head Coach of Team Power. In 2018, she led Power to the Championship and she became the first female in a Men’s Professional League to be named Coach of Year.
Sports are one of the most visible and powerful social institutions there is, with numerous games and events being broadcast around the world every day. Giving women coaches that kind of platform is extremely important, especially when their teams’ strength and ability has the potential to be seen by millions of people worldwide.
Girls and young women need strong female role models; women whose accomplishments they can aspire to, whether it’s becoming a better athlete or, one day, a coach. As things stand now, most girls never have the opportunity to train under a woman, making female representation in coaching all the more critical.
When men experience women as leaders, they usually respect them more. It’s important to continue this trend not only for today’s female coaches, but for the next generation as well.
Girls who see women in coaching roles are more likely to envision coaching as a career path for themselves. Seeing someone in that role helps them rationalize their desires, so they can achieve their dream of becoming a female coach and ultimately, normalize women in coaching as a career.
Sports organizations with more female coaches on staff bring different perspectives to the decision-making table. Not only do women coaches’ opinions matter, but they also can have a positive impact in the workplace.
It’s important for women coaches to interact with other women coaches to foster friendships, increase networking opportunities and offer support; in other words, to find your “tribe.” People you can rely on to listen without judgment and offer advice. This type of support system can help you feel secure as you grow in your career. It can also be helpful in terms of mentorship and navigating what is traditionally a male-dominated field.
The tokenism of women in the workplace is harmful to both their mental and physical health. A majority of women feel they must overperform in order to gain credibility. They often feel pressure to conform to workplace “norms” and that there are limited opportunities for growth within their field. Over time, this takes its toll and leads many women coaches to burnout and leave the profession altogether.
Overall, women who coach love what they do, and either are or will be amazing coaches. However, due to the culture of sports, many lose their passion for it. Fortunately, many positive changes have occurred and we are beginning to see an uptick in women in coaching. Now more than ever, we must remember women matter and the actions and successes of today’s women coaches have a direct impact on the future generation.
 Antigoni, Nikolaou, Barriers and Bases: A case study of women’s experience of underrepresentation at senior management levels, University of Gothenburg, 44.
2 Smith, S. L., Fry, M. D., Ethington, C. A., & Li, Y. (2005) The effect of female athletes’ perceptions of their coaches’ behaviors on their perceptions of the motivational climate, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 17(2), 170-177.
3 Women’s Sports Foundation, Coaching through a gender lens: Maximizing girls’ play and potential. 2019