Almost 80 per cent of elite Australian sportswomen are coached by men


Women fill just 25 per cent of coaching roles in Australian female sports when you exclude netball.

Impressive strides have been made in women's sport in recent years with the introduction of AFLW, NRLW and Super W, but most coaching gigs are going to men.

Female coaches are best represented in netball with eight out of nine head coaching roles filled by women but the numbers falls off dramatically after that.

Nine from 11 positions in soccer are filled by men and the same figure applies to the rugby codes. Just three from nine positions in basketball are women.

The statistics are more startling in the AFLW – all 10 coaches are male. Somehow the inaugural AFLW premiership coach Bec Goddard can't get a full-time gig.

Looking at Olympic sports, just 15 of the 160 accredited coaches at the 2016 Rio Olympics were female, which was a decline from 12 per cent at the 2012 London Olympics.

Garriock is in her second W-League season and the only full-time female soccer coach in the country but said she had to fight tooth and nail for her stripes.

"There are no career pathways for female coaches and until we have elite female pathways, where you do your badges and there's a job at the end, it will stay the same," Garriock said.

"From a male perspective, you do your badges and there's a full-time position in the A-League at the end. In the W-League, Im the only one."

Carrie Graf led the Canberra Capitals to six WNBL titles.

Carrie Graf led the Canberra Capitals to six WNBL titles. Credit:Melissa Adams

Legendary basketball coach Carrie Graf, who led the Canberra Capitals to six WNBL championships, believes there is an unconscious bias at play.

"Over the past four years there has been an increase in media marketing placed on women's codes and the traditional male codes invested into the AFLW, NRLW and Super W," Graf said.

"That's been wonderful for women's sport but what it has done is create more high-performance coaching pathways for coaches that have tended to be males.

"Look at Bec Goddard, she grew up in AFL, played, coached and umpired it at a high level and then takes a team expected to come last and wins the inaugural AFLW title.

"Where is she now? I think it speaks volumes that they just put a man already at the club in the role so they only have to pay one wage.

"That's the issue straight away. If you value the women's game and its development and its coaching, then pay for it."

Graf emphasised coaching "doesn't have a gender" but admits her career has been the exception to the rule.

"Up until three years ago I was a high-performance coach. For 25 years years I was paid to be a high-performance basketball coach and I reflect now and think 'Wow that was unique for the time'," Graf said.

"But that was almost 30 years ago so it's been a glacial change. There is a perception more women should be coaching women's sport but more women should be coaching high-performance sport.

"Why can't there be AFL and rugby head coaches? Becky Hammon is coaching at the San Antonio Spurs and that's not tokenism, she got an interview for an NBA head coaching job because she deserved it."

Graf said a big part of the problem was cultural and cited studies that said men apply for jobs they are 40 per cent qualified for but female applicants are closer to 90 per cent qualified.

Garriock agreed.

"It shouldn't matter if you're female or male, you should get a job on merit, the best person should get the job," Garriock said.

"But it's a catch 22 because women are overqualified usually when they go for jobs, guys just give it a shot even if they're not qualified, men have confidence to do that and women don't.

"We're our own worst enemy sometimes, it comes down to us as women and until we step out and put our hands up it won't get better. You don't ask, you don't get."

Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times

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