Women in Sport Leadership: Perils, Possibilities, and Pathways

logo: Task Force on Women in Sports in Michigan
logo: Task Force on Women in Sports in Michigan

April 2021

In June 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer established the Task Force on Women in Sports within the Department of State and chaired by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. The task force brings together local and national leaders to develop strategies that support and promote opportunities in Michigan for girls and women in sports. 

U-M Professor and IRWG affiliate Ketra Armstrong (Kinesiology, Afroamerican & African Studies, Women’s & Gender Studies) serves on the task force and recently published a report on women in sports leadership in Michigan, based on research findings from a survey of Michigan sports leaders. Several IRWG faculty affiliates provided feedback on Dr. Armstrong’s survey design and research goals at an Expert Advisory Panel in December 2019.

The final report includes results obtained from a sizable sample of Michigan sport leaders in various positions, settings, and phases of their career.

According to the report, “while women’s internal empowerment for a career in sports is laudable and important, their progress will not be sustained without systematic and organizational change: (a) changing the sport organizational cultures to be less of a ‘masculinity contest’ and changing their climates to be more inclusive of all women; (b) making gender equity the norm – i.e., ‘baked’ into the fabric of the organizational culture via accountability and organizational policies, procedures, and practices relative to sport leadership; (c) breaking the metaphorical glass ceiling by challenging, contesting, and removing the disparate rungs in the ‘broken’ ladders to success along their career path(s), and (d) eliminating the structural and systemic barriers that are entrenched in the institution of sport leadership.”

The report offers a list of recommendations that could be implemented at the local and state level to improve the status of women in sport leadership in our state. Read the full report here.

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