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Why are there so few female sports coaches? Gender stereotypes and lack of role models fuel inequality (China)

I have never had a female coach in any of my sports. And, if anecdotal evidence is any guidance, chances are that you haven’t, either.

Over the years, I’ve played football, badminton, golf, tennis, table tennis, Muay Thai, wushu and running in high school, university and now, but my coaches? All men.

Where are all the women? And what are we, as a sporting community and also the broader society, missing out on in our sporting experiences by not having women coach us?

For Kate Rutherford, who has a background in competitive swimming and has been coaching in Hong Kong for about a decade, the paucity of female counterparts in her profession means she invariably has had to deal with all sorts of barriers stemming from misinformed stereotypes.

nstances where she feels this most acutely include when she meets new clients for the first time, Rutherford said during in an episode of the Adventure Trail podcast.

“Sometimes they look at you and think, how can you possibly tell me anything that I don’t know? And that is the barrier that I have to get over and speak to people about,” said Rutherford, who oversees training programmes across all ages at 26 Coaching. “And I think with my proven track record of being an athlete, that helps. But if you don’t have that as a female coach then I do believe there are barriers that will never be broken down.”

Those barriers will never be broken down unless there are more women in her field, she said. Except for her first coach when she first started swimming at a recreational level, all of Rutherford’s coaches have been men. While the coaching industry has evolved in the years since Rutherford’s childhood days, coaches are still overwhelmingly men.

If Rutherford is still dealing with barriers 10 years into her coaching career in Hong Kong, what does this mean for women who are just getting into coaching?



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