SID survey finds gender diversity, fewer leadership roles for women

March 08, 2010

University Park, Pa. — College sports information offices have more gender diversity than newspaper sports departments, but women are still underrepresented in management, work in low status positions and generally leave the profession far earlier than their male counterparts, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism used a national survey of 775 sports information directors to assess women’s standing in the profession. The study, appearing in the current issue of the Journal of Sports Media and authored by doctoral student Erin Whiteside and associate director of research Marie Hardin, shows that women make up about 14 percent of those in leadership positions.

An earlier study of newspaper sports departments by the Center found that 9 percent of supervisors in newspaper sports departments are women.

Sports information directors handle media relations for college athletic departments and are often assigned to work with specific teams. The survey showed that work assignments were sharply divided along gender lines, with women most likely working with women’s sports and men most likely working with men’s sports. In particular, men composed 86 percent of all the SIDs in charge of working with football and 79 percent of all those assigned to men’s basketball.

“Football and men’s basketball are the two highest-profile sports in college athletics,” said lead researcher Erin Whiteside. “If women don’t have the opportunity to work with those sports, they will not gain the experience necessary to be considered for leadership positions.”
Women may leave the profession before they gain enough experience to qualify for managerial positions. Female SIDs who responded to the survey were younger and less experienced than their male counterparts.

Male SIDs also were far more likely to report being married and having children than were women.

“Women may see the long, unpredictable and late-night hours as incompatible with motherhood and may start leaving in their mid- to late 20s as they contemplate marriage and family,” Whiteside said.

The survey included comprehensive salary data. Most SIDs earn between $30,000 and $35,000 per year with no statistical difference by gender.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 13, 2010