Ensuring the Organisational Culture Values Women in Coaching

Positive imagery in development materials and increase promotion 

Women need to see that they are valued in the organisation for whom they coach. To that end, images of women, alongside men, playing and coaching sport should be used in all your publications, and promotional and educational resources. Female role models within your sport should be promoted and celebrated. 

If you used more images of women than men, would men stop wanting to be coaches? The answer is very likely no, but it could have a significant impact on how women perceive coaching (and your sport) and would encourage them to get involved.

Promoting your coaches will make them visible to your members. This can be done by ‘Coach of the Month’ acknowledgements. Weekly coaching profile pieces on your website interviewing the coach.

Chapter 3: Developing Coaches Suggested Actions

  • Review all your coach education material to ensure there is a gender balance on all images used.

  • Review the coaching section of your website to ensure there is a gender balance on all images used.

  • Discover ways of promoting female coaches in your sport, e.g. a weekly blog on your website profiling a new coach each week

  • Establish ‘Coach of the Month’ awards within the organisation

View your action list

Understanding your organisational culture and its possible impact on women sport coaches

Many women face cultural barriers on a daily basis. This affects how they are perceived in society and in sport. If carried out positively, the steps sport makes towards gender equality may, over time, have an effect on how women are perceived in society.


  • Sports can start this change process by looking within their own sport and their culture.
  • Does the sport proactively welcome women?
  • What is the perception of your sport? Is it a sport for men, or a sport for all?
  • Are clubs supported and proactive measures in place to make women feel equally as valued in coaching?
  • How many women work in the development of your sport?
  • How many women are in senior management roles and/or on the Board?
  • How is your sport publicised externally? Are images of men playing and coaching in sport predominantly used?
  • What policies and processes are in place that support and protect coaches? (For example: employment, health, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment/bullying policies).

Knowing your organisation and, if necessary, changing its culture and profile is not a short-term fix but recognising where women are under-represented in your organisation is a good starting point for making those changes.

As discussed in other parts of this toolkit, the approach your sport takes towards promoting the value of female coaches and proactively welcoming female coaches to develop is of paramount importance.

Chapter 3: Developing Coaches Suggested Actions

  • A self-assessment of your workforce/staff can be beneficial to discover if a gender balance exists.

  • Ensure all coaching material equally reflects female and male coaches in its imagery and portrayal so as to normalise women coaches.

  • Run annual surveys to discover the public’s view of the organisation.

View your action list

Stamp out sexism and gender related issues

According to the Sport Ireland research, many female coaches faced challenges and had more negative experiences because of their gender or age in other coaching related roles, particularly when dealing with male parents, male coaching colleagues and males in positions of management or administration. Female coaches cited negative experiences related to:

  • Inferior treatment from male parents, male coaches, male club administrators
  • Bullying for being a female coach
  • Seen as less knowledgeable
  • Overlooked by male peers
  • Not being taken seriously as a female
  • Disrespected
  • Stigma of being a female
  • Having to prove yourself
  • Male and female athletes question experience
  • Overlooked due to age or not as respected as older coaches

Figure 10. Negative experiences cited by coaches in the Sport Ireland Women in Coaching Research Report 2021.

Whilst we must respect the importance a woman places on attaining qualifications and attending training courses as a way of developing their own self-confidence, it is the work of the NGB, clubs and other areas in sport to not tolerate a culture of sexism which often exists within coaching, whereby a female coach is not valued as highly as a male coach. A female coach should not have to prove herself to be respected by


It is not the way we say we get things done, such as strategies, polices or procedures. We need to examine how we really get things done: the values, rituals, shared assumptions, the traditions, the perceptions, the unwritten rules, the stories that circulate within our NGB. These create our

organisational cultures… The pace of change in the make-up of the coaching profession is slow because it is an issue of cultural change, of deeply embedded ideas and behaviours within sport that have been so long in the making, they have become normalised…

L.Norman, 2017

Chapter 3: Developing Coaches Suggested Actions

  • Try and discover through workshops, surveys and discussions if women coaches in your sport have ever experienced issues relating to gender and sexism mentioned in this resource. That way you can take proactive measures to address it

  • Establish and promote a women in coaching awareness week, targeting males in sport and their attitude towards female coaches

  • Ensure all coaching material equally reflects female and male coaches in its imagery and portrayal so as to normalise women coaches

  • Add a segment to coaching courses that highlights the fact that women coaches can feel disrespected and disregarded due to their gender. This may create an awareness and selfconsciousness to all those on the course.

  • Host a staff webinar to outline your Action Plan for Women in Coaching or to simply make them aware of the key points highlighted in this toolkit or in the Sport Ireland Women in Coaching Research Report.

  • Use Codes of Conducts or ‘zero tolerance policies’ in the organisation, or encourage the use of them in clubs, to help overcome sexism or gender related issues cited by women coaches.

  • Host club workshops to provide feedback to clubs on challenges stated by women coaches and ways of improving them in the club.

View your action list

Who do you employ? 

If your sport is lucky enough to be in a position to hire sport/coach development officers, it is important to ensure females feel comfortable in applying for these roles and welcomed into the organisation as valued as any other coach. Quite often, females working in sports that traditionally would have been considered more male dominant, have reported feeling isolated, disrespected and judged as being a poor coach because she

is a female. Sports should work hard to ensure all staff value one another and treat each other with respect.

Chapter 3: Developing Coaches Suggested Actions

  • A self-assessment of your workforce/staff can be beneficial to ensure a gender balance exists.

  • Host a staff event such as, team building, a values workshop and unconscious bias training.

View your action list