Top management positions in women's professional basketball: Important factor identification for attaining these positions

Date of Completion

January 1999


Women's Studies|Business Administration, Management|Education, Physical




Women's participation in sport has grown tremendously, due in part to Tide IX as well as television exposure of college games, the Olympic Games, and the introduction of women's professional leagues. Consequently, the recent development of women's professional basketball and softball has created employment opportunities for female professional players to compete in the United States. With this increased amount of participation and the great number of dollars at stake in the sport market, women's professional status has risen. ^ The emergence of women into the culture of male dominated professional sport has yielded dividends beyond increased participation. It has stimulated women pursuing careers in sport management and has offered successful role models from women league presidents and vice presidents to general managers and coaches. However, there is a paucity of research in this new area of women's professional team sport, and in the unique aspect of women having peer managerial positions vis a vis men. ^ This study explored the emerging phenomenon of women in top management positions of power and decision making in women's professional basketball, and reflected their experiences in attaining these positions. Participants consisted of thirteen women in current or former top management positions having to do with women's professional basketball in the United States. Twenty-three interviews were conducted using in-depth phenomenologically based interview questions (Seidman, 1998). ^ Significant findings in the study included: (1) the majority of participants were exposed to competitive sport at an early age, and enjoyed organized sport when it was available; (2) the relationships formed on many levels with family, staff, administration, and peers, were enablers in their success; (3) mentors and role models were minimal, however were life-changing when mentioned; (4) individual talent, hard work, the desire to learn from everyone, and the love of sport provided the opportunity for these women to successfully negotiate the system; (5) important suggestions for students entering the field; (6) identification of perceived barriers were also defined, along with suggestions to overcome them efficiently. ^