Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Health and Sport Sciences

Degree Program

Sport Administration, MS

Committee Chair

Hums, Mary

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hancock, Meg

Committee Member

Hancock, Meg

Committee Member

Hambrick, Marion

Author's Keywords

gender; athletic administration; barriers; mentorship


Given the evident underrepresentation of females working intercollegiate athletics at all levels, there is a growing need to understand the types of barriers that limit women and cause these disproportionate representation(Acosta & Carpenter, 2014; Staurowsky & Smith, 2016). There is also a need to explore the impact of meaningful mentorship to combat these apparent obstacles. The purpose of this study was to investigate the barriers women currently face as they enter the intercollegiate athletics workplace in entry-level positions and explore the role of mentors in their career success. Entry-level sport administrators are a demographic of the industry that has not previously gotten the attention of researchers. Mentoring characteristics were based off Kram’s (1985) two categories of mentoring functions- developmental and psychosocial. Interviews were conducted and data was collected from 10 entry-level female administrators in NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics departments in a given conference. The biggest barriers women currently face in entry-level positions were (a)having to prove self/capabilities/ knowledge, (b) combating the “good old boys” club, (c) the department in which one works matters, and (d) work-family conflict. The most beneficial developmental mentoring functions were (a) coaching, (b) exposure and visibility, and (c) challenging assignments. Participants shared the most important psychosocial functions were (a) counseling and (b) role modeling. The most frequently emerging theme for mentoring functions overall was counseling. Participants shared that their aspirations of advancement have moved from wanting to be an Athletic Director toward leading either an internal or external department. Women’s goals of wanting to advance in their careers had not changed, and they believed that their goals were achievable given their abilities. These findings suggest that many of the experiences, obstacles, and mentoring functions found in studies of senior level or executive level administrators are very similar to those of entry-level positions. This means that the experience of an entry-level female sport administrator does not vary much in this regard from the time she starts her career in an entry level position to when she is in a high leadership position of power in a senior-level position. This is valuable information for women entering the intercollegiate sport industry, men and women currently in high leadership positions in intercollegiate athletics administration, and scholars studying gender and equity in sport.