Preparing female sport management students for leadership roles in sport
Women remain under-represented in leadership roles in New Zealand sport. This research examines the university learning experiences and career expectations and experiences of female sport management graduates and CEOs of New Zealand sports organisations. It concludes with implications for tertiary teaching and learning practices.
Sarah Leberman – Massey University
Sally Shaw – University of Otago
Date completed: July 2012
About the project
Women are consistently under-represented at the higher management levels in New Zealand sports organisations as is the case across the sectors in New Zealand and internationally.
In order to better understand the New Zealand situation this research had 2 main foci – to gain a better understanding of:
- the educational experiences of recent female sport management and physical education graduates (1998-2008)
- the career pathways of recent sport management and physical education graduates (1998-2008) and female CEOs in the New Zealand sport sector.
A phenomenological paradigm using a mixed method approach was used. Graduates were interviewed to explore their responses to a survey and 8 women CEOs of New Zealand national sports organisations agreed to be interviewed.
Findings and recommendations
The 2 main applications for the tertiary sector were the usefulness of the graduates’ degrees to the workforce, and how both groups’ experiences could inform curriculum development.
The findings suggested that the most important skills graduates learned during their degree were:
- planning and organising
- independent learning
- time-management skills.
However, the most important skills for women noted by graduates were:
- interpersonal skills.
This suggests a disconnect between preparation for the sector and requirements in the sector.
The CEOs reported that relationship building, stakeholder management, self-awareness and sense of judgement were most important to being successful in the sports industry. Mentors were considered to be important by both groups.
'Old Boys' networks were considered by most graduate and CEO respondents to still be a problem for women. Three CEOs felt that women should be able to navigate these networks through interpersonal skill development. Overall there was less difference in generational experience than expected.
The implications for practice include:
- integrating curriculum changes to assist in developing relationship-building skills and self-awareness
- encouraging students to work or volunteer so they are ready for work when they graduate
- developing career guidance and an understanding of work-life balance as part of skills development.
This work is published under the Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike Licence (BY-NC-SA). Under this licence you are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work as well as to remix, tweak, and build upon this work noncommercially, as long as you credit the author/s and license your new creations under the identical terms.