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


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.

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Correspondence to Lindsey Darvin.

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Darvin, L., Pegoraro, A. & Berri, D. Are Men Better Leaders? An Investigation of Head Coaches’ Gender and Individual Players’ Performance in Amateur and Professional Women’s Basketball. Sex Roles 78, 455–466 (2018).

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  • Organizational and occupational outcomes
  • Gender equality
  • Stereotypes
  • Leadership
  • Sport