Have a Question?
Ask the Graduate
College at our new
Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: JoAnne Gorant
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: Female Head Athletic Trainers in NCAA Division I (IA Football) Athletics: How They Made It to the Top
Dr. Andrea Beach, Chair
Dr. Sue Poppink
Dr. Susan Haworth-Hoeppner
Date: Monday, October 22, 2012 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Grand Rapids Beltline Campus, Room 3005
The profession of athletic training has opened its doors to women, who now slightly outnumber men in the profession (Shingles, 2001; WATC, 1997 & 2005). Unfortunately, this representation does not carry over into positions of high rank. The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine the lived experiences of female head athletic trainers in NCAA Division I (IA football) institutions to focus on the issues of barriers to advancement and their ability to overcome them.
Using Hakim’s “preference theory” as a lens, this interpretive qualitative investigation utilizes semi-structured, open-ended interviews to learn how participants advance in the field of athletic training to the position of head athletic trainer. The study identifies family division of labor and the discrimination from the “old boy’s club” found in other studies. However, it also shows low aspiration as an equally strong a barrier to advancement and demonstrates how low aspiration then affects the intentionality of one’s career path. The participants identify three reasons for their low aspiration: First, an aversion to working in football, a traditional role for many head athletic trainers; second, an overall dislike of the duties of head athletic trainer and, third, a stated reluctance to be in a leadership position.
Unique to this study is the identification of personal attributes which balance the barriers and aid the women in their advancement. All express a strong work ethic; they receive and internalize encouragement from others; and finally, they see a challenge and an opportunity for personal and professional growth in the head athletic trainer position. In most cases, they begin to see the position as something other than traditional, and one they can change and improve. This re-visioning of the position plays an integral part in their willingness to advance. Missing from the support these athletic training leaders identify is active professional mentoring. They do not benefit from formal or informal career advancement advice from supervisors or peers.
With low aspirations, low intentionality, and no career mentoring, these female head athletic trainers highlight the strong need for active preparation for advancement in the profession for both men and women.