The University of Newcastle, Australia

Am I a fraud? Imposter feelings in elite Olympic level coaching

Thursday, 22 October 2020

How do gender stereotypes create imposter feelings that halt the progression of women to elite coaching roles?

Sr Heather Douglas

Why did females make up only 11 per cent of accredited coaches at the Rio 2016 Olympic games?

Dr Heather Douglas, an expert in imposter phenomenon and Dr Kotryna Fraser, an expert in sport and performance psychology, from the University of Newcastle have received funding from the International Olympic Committee to find out.

Previous studies have identified a culture in sport that marginalises female coaches. Women are excluded from coaching men’s teams, are often discounted from roles coaching elite women, and are derided by media and fans when they are appointed in such roles.

This culture enforces stereotypes and results in perceived stereotype threat, enhanced imposter feelings, and an increased risk of exit from the profession by talented women.

Through quantitative and qualitative research, first with participants at a grassroots community sport level, and then with high-performance female coaches from all continents at the Olympic level, Dr Douglas and Dr Fraser hope to unpack and explore the factors that cause women to leave the coaching profession.

This will result in recommendations for the International Olympic Committee to increase female participation in elite coaching that are responsive to stereotype threat in sport.


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