Female coaches’ first years of experience


Some 60 per cent of delegation members at the Rio Olympic Games were female. However, only an estimated 15 per cent of the coaches were women. This is exactly the issue Guylaine Demers, professor in Université Laval’s Physical Education Department, is addressing.

The early years of a coaching career are not easy for women, and female coaches aren’t always well prepared to deal with the challenges of the job. Some studies have shown that many female coaches leave the profession after less than four years on the job, compared to 11 years for men.

A study by Demers has identified problems women face, including sports management, feelings of inadequacy, lack of knowledge, poor financial support, difficult relationships with parents, fear of making mistakes, and a negative social climate. The study identified three categories of solutions:


  • Provide women-only training.
  • Provide training on different leadership styles.
  • Provide sports management training.
  • Offer a variety of training strategies and a bank of diverse exercises.


  • Pair novice coaches with mentors, so they can provide support.


  • Identify high-level female athletes with coaching potential, and direct them to the training available.
  • Select graduates of the program as assistant coaches.
  • Let local sports organizations know about newly trained female coaches.

The Égale Action website, which promotes the participation of women and girls in sports and physical activity, offers more information.

This research was funded by Sport Canada through the Sports Participation Research Initiative.