Gendered coaching : the impact of gender on roles and qualities of elite women's field hockey coaches : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Management, Massey University, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
Field hockey in New Zealand is gender balanced in terms of numbers of female and male participants, but gender biased towards males, in terms of coaching appointments. The trend towards men increasingly dominating leadership positions in elite women's coaching, has been the focus of concerned feminist researchers for over a decade. This current study examined the early roots of field hockey history in New Zealand, noted the trend towards hegemonic male domination of coaching roles, and sought to elucidate the roles and qualities of actual elite coaches and, in particular, examine the impact of gender on the stage of elite women's field hockey. The elite level of competition, familiar to the researcher as a past field hockey international player, has been defined as one that occurs at the highest internal national (usually provincial), or international (test) levels, of sport. It is within this elite sporting setting that the impact of gender has been studied in the present research, whereby gender is viewed as a socially constructed concept, based on culturally reinforced images of masculinity and femininity, as expressed by accepted traits, roles and qualities. A variety of qualitative methods was used, each underpinned with the basal intention of capturing participant voices and portraying images of perceived realities as they emerged from a variety of scenes, including matches, team meetings, warm-ups and post-match evaluations. The study concentrated on three provincial women's teams over a period spanning three years. Participant images were also captured from observations with the New Zealand women's hockey team during their build up to World Cup in Holland in 1998. Furthermore, interviews with provincial women's hockey coaches, and a questionnaire of provincial hockey players, added further data for analysis. Integral to the research process was the systematic critical reflection of the researcher, her chief supervisor, and main subjects of the study. Participant observation, semi-structured coach interviews, and player questionnaires generated data from a variety of research settings. These data were subjected to grounded theory analysis to create a master list of categories and properties that, in turn, generated theoretical propositions about coach roles, coach qualities, the impact of gender, and coach development. The theoretical propositions became the basis of a model explicating the impact of gender on the setting of elite women' field hockey. Critical to this model were the three realms of administrators, coaches, and players. Interactions between each realm were perceived by the researcher as occurring through a centrally placed 'gender archetype' proposed as a domain of social field moderation. The degree to which the archetype impacted on each setting varied, according to societal and individual perceptions of gender. Critical gender issues were raised through this study in terms of men coaching women at the elite level. These were especially noted in terms of: gendered beliefs and attitudes, physical myths and realities, confidence and competence, and sex and sexuality. Significant aspects of this research's findings included: the large number of roles undertaken by elite women's hockey coaches; the prime importance of communication and leadership in terms of both roles and qualities; and the lack of support mechanisms utilised by, and provided for, coaches. The study noted the difficulties associated with recruitment and retention of women in elite roles and highlighted the need for administrators to develop proactive programmes to foster women in such roles, and to educate men committed to women's hockey, about gender issues raised in this study.