University of Minnesota

2020 Spring eTCN

Hello from the virtual version of the Tucker Center. The Tucker Team, like many of you, is getting creative on how stay connected, do our work, and move our bodies. We recognize that with time and support we will get through this crisis. As we care for those around us, let’s continue to push our missions forward and have our voices be heard. Let’s be ready, positioned with the baton, so we can continue to advance gender equity for girls and women in sport.

In the face of feelings of isolation that social distancing can create, we remain committed to keeping the conversation alive through conducting and disseminating research for girls and women in sport. We, along with colleagues around the globe, are striving to keep the momentum around women’s sport moving forward. It is because of this amazing community we’ve come so far, thank you. It’s a testament to who you are, and who WE are together. Based on the data, underserved and underrepresented groups of girls and women are being most impacted by this virus, and that includes sportswomen. In this newsletter, you’ll read about our ongoing creative work and future exciting research endeavors. We have also included links to our vast array of free resources we hope you will access, use and share to sustain momentum. We encourage you to use these action-oriented resources. Also join us on social media by using #SHECANCOACH and #HERESPROOF hashtags. Imagine the possibility of increasing the leverage of social media to raise awareness of gender disparities in sport!

Energy, resources and commitment for gender equity should be strengthened in this time of change. And think how exciting it will be when we come together to do exactly that and the awesome impact it will have on women and girls in sport. Brands, sport properties, agencies, researchers, advocates and sport stakeholders, especially those in positions of power, have vast opportunities to use this time to strategize on how to emerge better, stronger and in a way that uniquely positions them to lead in the effort to improve the landscape and commit to equity for girls and women in sport. Much will be (re)learned about gender and sport during the coronavirus pandemic pertaining to visibility and media coverage, resource allocation, priorities, inclusivity, and gender-balanced leadership.

At the Tucker Center, we remain strongly committed to making a difference in the lives of girls and women in sport, their families and communities. We appreciate you--our diverse and expansive community. You make the world a better place, thank you. We remain Indebted to you for your time, generosity and support. We look forward to staying connected with you to get the job done! Stay tuned as we all process this period together.

Humbly yours, Nicole M. LaVoi, Director of the Tucker Center

Each year we produce Women in College Coaching Report Cards (WCCRC) in collaboration with WeCOACH. The reports document the percentage of women in head coaching positions at institutions, conferences and in sports over the last eight years at NCAA D-I, D-II, and D-III levels. The data from our latest “Select 7 NCAA D-I Conferences” report is now available and data are beginning to show some interesting trends:

The percentage of women head coaches of women’s teams in seven select NCAA Division-I conferences (AAC, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) went up for the seventh year in a row and is now at 42.3%—the data is moving in the right direction! However, the majority of hires have been men. Many ADs are missing targets of opportunity to hire women.


  • Conference Leader: Big Ten
  • Institutional Leader: Cincinnati
  • Sport Leader: Field Hockey

To read the full report, view all the report cards, download the infographic, and see which institutions, sports and conferences receive passing and failing grades, visit our Women in Sport Coaching Research tab on our website. You can download infographics for institutions only and one that also includes conference grades.

McKenzie Arbeiter joined the Tucker Team in Spring 2017 as an undergraduate research assistant during her senior year at the University of Minnesota, where she had previously earned a bachelors in psychology and a minor in coaching. After a gap year, she rejoined the Tucker Team to pursue a Masters in Kinesiology with a focus on sport and exercise psychology. Arbeiter has coached high school and club soccer in the Twin Cities Metro area and recently earned her USSF National D license, and will continue to coach girls' soccer at BV United, the only Minnesota soccer club that boasts all women coaches for their girls’ program. For her MS thesis, she is examining the relationship between collegiate women coaches’ burnout and their DISC profiles. Following graduation in May, Arbeiter will begin a doctoral program at the University of Western States (UWS) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Her ultimate goal is to become a licensed mental health counselor (LPC) and work with high school and college athletes in her community. She plans to continue helping out with Tucker Center programming, including the Women Coaches Symposium. Arbeiter states of her time in the TC, “My involvement in research and public scholarship fueled my passions to advocate for equity for girls and women in sport, especially in promoting women coaches for girls’ sports teams. While working as an LPC in the future, I want to continue to work alongside soccer programs to promote the hiring and retention of women coaches in youth and high school soccer.” We know McKenzie will continue to make a difference for girls and women in sport, and we thank her as a valuable member of the Tucker Team!

Topline findings of our research efforts for girls and women in sport.

Many related research projects have spun off of our Women in College Coaching Report Cards (WCCRC). One variable we collect for the WCCRC is the personal narrative of the coach. University-sanctioned athletic websites vary widely, but many include personal narratives that speak to a coach’s family life. In 2009, Tucker Center scholars Drs. Austin Stair Calhoun (U of M, Medical School), Nicole M. LaVoi, and Alicia Johnson (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, who at the time was a TC summer intern!) published a paper on how heteronormativity and heterosexism prevail in collegiate athletics, and illustrated how same-sex family narratives were erased from online coaching biographies. Given sociocultural changes in legislation and attitudes regarding the LGBTQ+ community, we wanted to examine online coach bios ten years later. What we found may surprise you! For NCAA D-I head coaches of women’s teams in 2018-19, only 18 of ~3,700 (0.05%) reported a same-sex family narrative in their online bio. Currently, LaVoi and her graduate student Sophie Glassford are interviewing this sub-sample of coaches. Their results will be published later in 2020 in a special, sport-themed issue of the Journal of Homosexuality edited by TC affiliated scholar Dr. Vikki Krane (Bowling Green U). Stay tuned.

To date, after eight years of compiling the WCCRC, very few institutions have received an above-average grade of A or B. In fact, far more Fs have been assigned than As and Bs. We were often asked, “What are A and B schools doing to hire and retain women?” We didn’t know the answer. For the limited number of institutions who received an A or B, no data existed as to what these “above average” athletic administrators (ADs) were doing to recruit, hire and retain women head coaches. Therefore, we wanted to learn from ADs that have a track record of success and “doing it right” (i.e., were awarded an A or B on the WCCRC) in terms of hiring and retaining a majority of women coaches for their women’s teams. The results of those interviews can be found in our report, Athletic administration best practices of recruitment, hiring and retention of female collegiate coaches (LaVoi & Wasend, 2018).

In 2019, TC director LaVoi travelled around the globe and around the US speaking to many groups of stakeholders on topics related to girls and women in sport. In October, LaVoi was a keynote speaker at the Sport Canada Research Initiative (SCRI) Conference in Ottawa, Canada. Her keynote, “Girls & Women in Sport: Research to Practice,” summarizes the research agenda of the TC and why and how we do our research.

In December, LaVoi participated in the first-ever WeCOACH and Hudl sponsored BreakThrough Digital Leadership Summit for Women in Sports and gave a talk titled, “Letting the Data Tell the Story on Women Coaches.” You can sign up for free and watch LaVoi and all the other industry-leading speakers here.

Tucker Center affiliated a scholars Drs. Beth Daniels (University of Colorado Colorado Springs), Cheryl Cooky (Purdue) and LaVoi have a paper accepted in Sex Roles, titled "Sexualized and athletic: Viewers’ attitudes toward sexualized performance images of female athletes."

At the close of the 2020 spring semester, Professor Mary Jo Kane, founder and director emerita of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and full professor in the School of Kinesiology, will retire and enter civilian life. School director, Dr. Beth Lewis, puts it succinctly: “Dr. Kane has been a strong researcher and advocate for girls and women in sport through founding and growing the Tucker Center to what it is today. … Students, staff and faculty, myself included, are going to significantly miss Dr. Kane.” Dr. Kane arrived at the University in 1989 and founded the Tucker Center in 1993. Over three decades she has conducted seminal research and persistent outreach on the impact of Title IX and media representations of female athletes. Kane served as the Tucker Center’s director until the fall of 2018 when Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi took the helm. As Professor Kane retires and closes this chapter of her pioneering career in academe, the Tucker Team will work to continue and grow the legacy she began.

Guylaine Demers, Ph.D., professor at Laval University, and chair of Women’s Studies research, was one of six international winners to receive the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Women and Sports Award. Demers is an affiliated scholar with the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and also serves as chair for the Gender Equity Task Force for the Sports Ministry of Canada. Congrats, Dr. Demers!

Matea Wasend, former U of MN School of Kinesiology MS student in sport sociology, Tucker Center research assistant, and two-time recipient of the Tucker Center‘s Pam Borton Fellowship, is the inaugural recipient of the Erin Reifsteck Student Paper of the Year Award from the Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal (WSPAJ). Wasend received the WSPAJ award for her publication with adviser Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi, “Are women coached by women more likely to become sport coaches? Head coach gender and female collegiate athletes’ entry into the coaching profession.” To honor Wasend’s work, her winning article is open-access for the coming year. Wasend also talked with Dr. LaVoi on an episode of the Tucker Center Talks podcast where they discussed how she came up with the idea, what she did, and what she found.

We have entered a partnership with WISP Sports to promote our research, education, and outreach around girls and women in sport to a broader audience via our new podcast, "Tucker Center Talks." Tucker Center Director, Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi hosts the podcast featuring invited guests, timely critiques, the latest research, and dialogue around girls and women in sport. You can listen to Tucker Center Talks Season 1 and new episodes of Season 2 which drop every other week on our website.

NEW!! Our Game ON: Women Can Coach Toolkit includes many evidence-based resources to help stakeholders and advocates create a sport climate that values and supports all women coaches. The toolkit contains ready-made content perfect for online instruction, including the Game ON: Women Can Coach full-length documentary, the updated and condensed 17 min version with new intro by Good Morning America host Robin Roberts and footage of two-time NCAA Championship Notre Dame Women’s Basketball coach Muffet McGraw. Both films also include USWNT two-time FIFA World Cup Championship coach Jill Ellis and four-time WNBA Championship coach Cheryl Reeve. Game ON explores evidence-based research, dispels false narratives, and celebrates female coaching pioneers at all levels of sport. Visit for all these materials.

Are you looking for online course content related to girls and women in sport, delivered by world class experts? Then be sure to check out 15 years of our Distinguished Lecture Series video archive.

The Women Coaches Symposium (WCS) originally scheduled for Friday, April 24, was postponed due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus. The WCS planning committee currently has Friday, Oct 9 on hold. Updated information, including a possible virtual option, will be available at the WCS website: