Sex Roles

, Volume 78, Issue 7–8, pp 455–466 | Cite as

Are Men Better Leaders? An Investigation of Head Coaches’ Gender and Individual Players’ Performance in Amateur and Professional Women’s Basketball

  • Lindsey DarvinEmail author
  • Ann Pegoraro
  • David Berri
Original Article


Male-dominated industries such as sport contain stereotypical and subjective notions of leadership ability (Burton et al. 2009; Fink 2008). These gender stereotypes often manifest themselves within varying levels of leadership, but specific to the sport industry, they are the most visible within the head coach role. Men hold the majority of head coach positions within the professional and amateur levels of sport, and these hiring practices can be based on gender-role stereotypes (Acosta and Carpenter 2014). In an attempt to challenge stereotypical gender based leadership preferences, leadership ability and performance should be objectively examined. Therefore, in the present investigation we aimed to examine the presence of gender stereotypes in the sport industry by determining whether the gender of a head coach for two women’s basketball leagues, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), impacted individual player performance. Data were collected for 1522 players for 19 WNBA seasons (1997–2015) and 4000 players for three seasons of NCAA Women’s Basketball (2013–2016). Results indicated that head coach gender does not appear to impact individual player performance in the WNBA or in the NCAA thereby providing objective evidence to challenge the traditional gender stereotypes found within the sports industry.


Organizational and occupational outcomes Gender equality Stereotypes Leadership Sport 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11199_2017_815_MOESM1_ESM.docx (46 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 45 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Tourism, Recreation, Sport ManagementUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sports AdministrationLaurentian UniversitySudburyCanada
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsSouthern Utah UniversityCedar CityUSA

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