Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Patricia Smeaton, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Valeri Helterbran, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Robert Fleischman, J.D., Ed.D.


The purpose of this explanatory mixed methods research study was to examine the relationship of modern sexism to a female athlete's preference for a coach based on the sex of the coach. Female athletes (N = 155) from one National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I institution in the Northeastern United States participated in the study. The female athletes were members of the following teams: basketball, cross country, fencing, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, track and field, and volleyball. The study was sequential; the qualitative phase followed the quantitative phase. Participants in the quantitative phase were asked to indicate their preference for a male or female coach, to quantify the number of male and female head coaches that they had experience with at the youth sport and interscholastic level of competition, and to complete the Modern Sexism Scale (Swim, Aikin, Hall, & Hunter, 1995). A systematic random sampling technique was used to select the 10 participants for the qualitative phase of the study. Criteria for selection included preference for a male coach and willingness to be interviewed. During the interviews, participants were asked to reflect on their early sport experience, the traits ascribed to coaches, and the perception to which gender equality existed in intercollegiate athletics. Results indicated that 81% of the female athletes in this study preferred a male coach. In addition, experiences with female coaches at the youth sport level were a significant predictor for their preference for a female coach later in their athletic career. Experiences with both male and female coaches at the high school and collegiate levels were also significant predictors for their preference for a coach. Further findings revealed that the participants did not hold modern sexist beliefs as measured by the Modern Sexism Scale (Swim et al.,1995); however, their discourses revealed otherwise. Finally, based on their overall experience with more male coaches than female coaches, a "think coach, think male" stereotype existed among the participants in this study. This research study bolsters previous research on preference for a coach and extends the literature on sexism in sport.