How sexism leads to intentions to leave an organization among coaches of women's teams in Division I intercollegiate athletics



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Since the passage of Title IX, there has been a steady decline of women head coaches in intercollegiate athletics. Previous research indicated that perceived treatment and access discrimination may be a plausible cause of the decline; however, research has not identified the antecedents of discrimination. Research indicates that sexism levels are associated with hiring intentions, ascription of attributes to managers, and performance appraisals. This study attempted to identify sexism as one possible antecedent of discrimination. A dyadic study between head and assistant collegiate coaches was utilized to determine the relationship between hostile and benevolent sexism, treatment and access discrimination, and intentions to leave the profession. I sampled 364 head coaches and 163 assistant coaches, creating 71 dyads. Each of the measures was validated in previous research. Results indicated that men possessed higher levels of hostile (M = 2.02, SD = 1.02) and benevolent (M = 2.33, SD = 1.01) sexists beliefs than females (M = 2.00, SD = .97, M = 1.62, SD = 1.00). Additionally, females coaches indicated significantly higher levels of perceived access discrimination (F [1, 384] = 38.05, p < .01), treatment discrimination (F [1,384] = 7.353, p < .01) and intentions to leave (F [1, 384] = 13.146, p < .01) than men. Results indicate that there is a correlation between benevolent sexism and access discrimination (r = .322, p < .001) within the coach dyads. Further, to support previous literature, this study found that 17% of the variance in intentions to leave the profession was explained by perceived treatment and access discrimination. Though the results of this study show only one relationship between sexism and perceived discrimination, the results that sexism is present in intercollegiate athletics and that females perceive higher levels of discrimination and intentions to leave the profession are an interesting finding. Sexism may have an effect on perceived discrimination; however, the relationship may be mediated through other variables such as group identity or organizational citizenship behavior. Ultimately, this study has indicated that sexist beliefs are present in intercollegiate athletics and has negative implications that should be further researched.