Sex Roles

, Volume 58, Issue 1–2, pp 136–145 | Cite as

Creating and Sustaining Gender Diversity in Sport Organizations

  • George B. CunninghamEmail author
Original Article


Past diversity frameworks have focused on the desired end state of diversity management strategies (i.e., cultures that value diversity and capitalize on the benefits that differences can bring to the organization) but have largely failed to highlight the methods of creating such change. A model is proposed that addresses this gap in the literature. Specifically, I argue that political, functional, and social pressures will call into question the legitimacy of the institutionalized nature of gender inequality in sport organizations. These pressures are then thought to result in employee commitment to and behavioral support for gender diversity initiatives. The relationship between the pressures for deinstitutionalization and commitment to gender diversity are thought to be moderated by four factors: the presence of change teams, education, top management support, and systemic integration. Contributions and future directions are discussed.


Diversity strategy Gender Inclusion 


  1. Acosta, R. V., & Carpenter, L. J. (2006). Women in intercollegiate sport: A longitudinal study-twenty nine year update-1977–2006. Unpublished manuscript, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY.Google Scholar
  2. Bacharach, S. B. (1989). Organizational theories: Some criteria for evaluation. Academy of Management Review, 14, 496–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations for thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Blinde, E. M., Greendorfer, S. L., & Shanker, R. J. (1991). Differential media coverage of men’s and women’s intercollegiate basketball: Reflection of gender ideology. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 15, 98–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carpenter, L. J., & Acosta, R. V. (2005). Title IX. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.Google Scholar
  7. Chelladurai, P. (2005). Managing organizations for sport and physical activity: A systems perspective (2nd ed.). Scottsdale, AZ: Holcomb Hathaway.Google Scholar
  8. Claringbould, I., & Knoppers, A. (2007). Finding a ‘normal’ woman: Selection processes for board membership. Sex Roles, 56, 495–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cobb, A. T. (1986). Political diagnosis: Applications in organizational development. Academy of Management Review, 11, 482–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cox , T. H., Jr. (2001). Creating a multicultural organization: Theory, research, and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  11. Cox, T. (2002). Taking diversity to the next level. Executive Excellence, 19, 19.Google Scholar
  12. Cunningham, G. B. (2002). Removing the blinders: Toward and integrative model of organizational change in sport and physical activity. Quest, 54, 276–291.Google Scholar
  13. Cunningham, G. B. (2007). Diversity in sport organizations. Scottsdale, AZ: Holcomb Hathaway.Google Scholar
  14. Cunningham, G. B., & Fink, J. S. (2006). Diversity issues in sport and leisure: Introduction to a special issue. Journal of Sport Management, 20, 455–465.Google Scholar
  15. Cunningham, G. B., & Sagas, M. (2002). The differential effects of human capital for male and female Division I basketball coaches. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 73, 489–495.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dacin, M. T., Goodstein, J., & Scott, W. R. (2002). Institutional theory and institutional change: Introduction to the special research forum. Academy of Management Journal, 45, 45–57.Google Scholar
  17. Danylchuk, K. E., & MacLean, J. (2001). Intercollegiate athletics in Canadian universities: Perspectives on the future. Journal of Sport Management, 15, 364–379.Google Scholar
  18. DeSensi, J. T. (1995). Understanding multiculturalism and valuing diversity: A theoretical perspective. Quest, 47, 34–43.Google Scholar
  19. DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. W. (1983). The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. American Sociological Review, 48, 147–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dixon, M. A., & Bruening, J. E. (2005). Perspectives on work-family conflict in sport: An integrated approach. Sport Management Review, 8, 227–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dixon, M. A., & Cunningham, G. B. (2006). Multi-level analysis in sport management: Conceptual issues and review of aggregation techniques. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 10(2), 85–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Doherty, A. J., & Chelladurai, P. (1999). Managing cultural diversity in sport organizations: A theoretical perspective. Journal of Sport Management, 13, 280–297.Google Scholar
  23. Ely, R. J., & Meyerson, D. E. (2000). Advancing gender equity in organizations: The challenge and importance of maintaining a gender narrative. Organization, 7, 589–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fenwick, G. D., & Neale, D. J. (2001). Effect of gender composition on group performance. Gender, Work and Organization, 8, 205–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fink, J. S., & Pastore, D. L. (1999). Diversity in sport? Utilizing the business literature to devise a comprehensive framework of diversity initiatives. Quest, 51, 310–327.Google Scholar
  26. Fink, J. S., Pastore, D. L., & Riemer, H. A. (2001). Do differences make a difference? Managing diversity in Division IA intercollegiate athletics. Journal of Sport Management, 15, 10–50.Google Scholar
  27. Fink, J. S., Pastore, D. L., & Riemer, H. A. (2003). Managing employee diversity: Perceived practices and organizational outcomes in NCAA Division III athletic departments. Sport Management Review, 6, 147–168.Google Scholar
  28. Gilbert, J. A., & Ivancevich, J. M. (2000). Valuing diversity: A tale of two organizations. Academy of Management Executive, 14(1), 93–105.Google Scholar
  29. Greenwood, R., & Hinings, C. R. (1996). Understanding radical organizational change: Brining together the old and new institutionalism. Academy of Management Review, 21, 1022–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Herscovitch, L., & Meyer, J. P. (2002). Commitment to organizational change: Extension of a three-component model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 474–487.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hinings, C. R., & Greenwood, R. (1988). The dynamics of strategic change. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  32. Hirschhorn, L. (2002). Campaigning for change. Harvard Business Review, 80(7), 98–104.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Inglis, S., Danylchuk, K. E., & Pastore, D. L. (2000). Multiple realities of women's work experiences in coaching and athletic management. Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, 9(2), 1–27.Google Scholar
  34. Jackson, L. C. (1999). Ethnocultural resistance to multicultural training: Students and faculty. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 5, 27–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jayne, M. E. A., & Dipboye, R. L. (2004). Leveraging diversity to improve business performance: Research findings and recommendations for organizations. Human Resource Management, 43, 409–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kanter, R. M. (2004). The middle manager as an innovator. Harvard Business Review, 82(7/8), 150–161.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Kotter, J. P. (1995). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 59–67.Google Scholar
  38. Kozlowski, S. W. J., & Klein, K. J. (2000). A multilevel approach to theory and research in organizations: Contextual, temporal, and emergent processes. In K. J. Klein, & S. W. J. Kozlowski (Eds.) Multilevel theory, research, and methods in organizations: Foundations, extensions, and new directions (pp. 3–90). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  39. Lee, K., Carswell, J. J., & Allen, N. J. (2000). A meta-analytic review of occupational commitment: Relations with person- and work-related variables. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 799–811.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lewin, K. (1952). Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers by Kurt Lewin. London: Tavistok.Google Scholar
  41. McBride, D. K., Worcester, L. L., & Tennyson, S. L. (1999). Women’s athletics and the elimination of men’s sports programs: A reevaluation. Cato Journal, 19, 323–330.Google Scholar
  42. Messner, M. A., Duncan, M. C., & Jensen, K. (1993). Separating the men from the girls: The gendered language of televised sports. Gender & Society, 7, 121–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Messner, M., & Sabo, D. (1990). Sport, men, and the gender order. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.Google Scholar
  44. Messner, M. A., & Solomon, N. M. (2007). Social justice and men’s interests: The case of Title IX. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 31, 162–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Meyer, J. P., & Allen, N. J. (1991). A three component conceptualization of organizational commitment. Human Resource Management Review, 1, 61–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Meyer, J. P., & Herscovitch, L. (2001). Commitment to the workplace: Toward a general model. Human Resource Management Review, 11, 299–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Meyerson, D. E., & Kolb, D. M. (2000). Moving out of the “armchair”: Developing a framework to bridge the gap between feminist theory and practice. Organization, 7, 553–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Oliver, C. (1992). The antecedents of deinstitutionalization. Organization Studies, 13, 563–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Parks, J. B, & Roberton, M. A. (2002). The gender gap in student attitudes toward sexist/nonsexist language: Implications for sport management education. Journal Sport Management Review, 16, 190–208.Google Scholar
  50. Redick, C. A. (2006). Testimony of Catherine Anne Redick. Accessed May 30, 2006 from, February.
  51. Robbins, S. P. (2003). Essentials of organizational behavior (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  52. Rogelberg, S. G., & Rumery, S. M. (1996). Gender diversity, team decision quality, time on task, and interpersonal cohesion. Small Group Research, 27, 79–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sagas, M., & Cunningham, G. B. (2004). Does having the “right stuff” matter? Gender differences in the determinants of career success among intercollegiate athletic administrators. Sex Roles, 50, 411–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Salancik, G. R., & Pfeffer, J. (1978). A social information processing approach to job attitudes and job design. Administrative Science Quarterly, 23, 224–253.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sartore, M. L., & Cunningham, G. B. (2007). Ideological gender beliefs, identity control and self-limiting behavior within sport organizations. Quest, 59, 244–265.Google Scholar
  56. Scott, W. R. (1987). The adolescence of institutional theory. Administrative Science Quarterly, 32, 493–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Scott, W. R. (2001). Institutions and organizations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  58. Shaw, S. (2006). Scratching the back of “Mr. X”: Analyzing gendered social processes in sport organizations. Journal of Sport Management, 20, 510–534.Google Scholar
  59. Shaw, S., & Frisby, W. (2006). Can gender equity be more equitable?: Promoting and alternative frame for sport management research, education, and practice. Journal of Sport Management, 20, 483–509.Google Scholar
  60. Shaw, S., & Hoeber, L. (2003). “A strong man is direct and a direct woman is a bitch”: Gendered discourses and their influence on employment roles in sport organizations. Journal of Sport Management, 17, 347–375.Google Scholar
  61. Simon, M., Elango, B., Houghton, S. M., & Savelli, S. (2002). The successful product pioneers: Maintaining commitment while adapting to change. Journal of Small Business Management, 40, 187–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tolbert, P. (1985). Resource dependence and institutional environments: Sources of administrative structure in institutions of higher education. Administrative Science Quarterly, 30, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Van de Ven, A. H., & Poole, M. S. (1995). Explaining development and change in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 20, 510–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Whisenant, W. A., Pederson, P. M., & Obenour, B. L. (2002). Success and gender: Determining the rate of advancement for intercollegiate athletic directors. Sex Roles, 47, 485–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zucker, L. G. (1987). Institutional theories of organizations. Annual Review of Sociology, 13, 443–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Diversity in SportTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations