This research project answers the question: To what extent is there a gender gap in sports leadership (coaches) and athletic participation (student-athletes) in Palo Alto, and how do the reasons that girls start and stop playing organized sports differ from boys? In this study of Palo Alto high school students, quantitative and qualitative data was collected through a survey to determine how long they participated in sports, the reasons they started/stopped participating, the gender of their coaches, and whether they had a conscious preference for the gender of their coaches. According to the data collected from the sample, it was generally found that (1) girls participate in sports for less seasons than boys, (2) girls start playing sports later than boys, (3) the reasons that girls start/stop playing sports are similar to those of boys, (4) girls and boys had significantly more male coaches than female coaches, and this difference was more pronounced for boys coaches than girls coaches, and (5) girls and boys had no conscious preference for the gender of their coach–but those who did generally preferred a coach of the same gender.
Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed the many benefits that come with participating in organized sports. Unfortunately, there is still a gender participation gap in athletics–even after the passage of Title IX, a law requiring federally-funded institutions (like public schools) to provide boys and girls with equal opportunities to participate. My research primarily seeks to identify the extent to which a gender gap exists in sports leadership (coaches) and athletic participation (student-athletes) in Palo Alto. I hope that this information starts a conversation about what can be done to close the gender gap in athletics, so that all may have an equal chance of benefitting.