A Biographical Interpretation of Women's Journeys Through Athletic Leadership: Pre and Post Title IX Legislation

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                                                 WOMEN'S JOURNEYS THROUGH ATHLETIC                 


                                                  LEADERSHIP: PRE AND POST 

                                                  TITLE IX LEGISLATION


                                                  Marlene Louise Kelly, Doctor of 

                                                  Philosophy, 2004

Dissertation Directed by: Dr. Francine H. Hultgren

                                                  Education Policy and Leadership

   This study explores the life experiences of four women athletic leaders, in four 

Decades (1960s-1990s), as they traveled through careers in athletic leadership, pre and post Title IX passage, in 1972. The study covers the lives of these women from childhood to their adult years.

   Through the methodology of interpretive biography, the research investigates the lives of these four women coaches to bring to light the experiential and societal issues that have impacted their journeys. A narrative based on individual conversations with each participant and written reflections of the researcher provides insight into these women's coaching experiences. Denzin's methodology for in interpretive biography served as the framework for the study. The use of personal histories, as the basis for research in order to share and extend knowledge, is the keystone of this methodology.

   The major themes that come through in the life stories are centered around the support of family, the importance of role models, the impact of training, the ability to develop a personal philosophy of coaching, the importance of mentoring, and the coping skills that these women use to handle the stress. Although the journeys of these four women are varied, these characteristics were interwoven in each of their stories.    

   Implications and recommendations for future women coaches entering the athletic leadership field center around the process of leadership development, rather than just the end result of being a coach. Women coaches need to be supported in their developmental years. Successful women coaches need to be a role model for novice coaches and mentor them through the life long journey. Extensive training and knowledge develops confidence in novice coaches and supports their goal to be successful.

   Although Title IX was the time anchor for this study, the last thirty years have not made the journey for women in athletics an easier course to travel. Obstacles remain the same, and challenges still require individual solutions. Additional studies on gender differences in coaching and coaching philosophy are recommended.