Sex Roles [sers] pp1103-sers-480106 February 13, 2004 22:55 Style ﬁle version June 3rd, 2002
Sex Roles, Vol. 50, Nos. 5/6, March 2004 (
Does Having “the Right Stuff” Matter? Gender Differences
in the Determinants of Career Success Among
Intercollegiate Athletic Administrators
and George B. Cunningham
The purpose of this study was to explore gender differences on the determinants of career
success (i.e., career satisfaction and promotions) through the differential return hypothesis.
Human capital and social capital were both hypothesized to have a greater inﬂuence on the
men’s career success than on the women’s. A questionnaire was used to gather data from 213
(74 men, 139 women) NCAA Division I athletic administrators. Results suggest that social
capital was more inﬂuential for men than for women in gaining promotions in administration.
However, differential returns were not noted for the human capital determinants on either
career success variables.
KEY WORDS: social capital; human capital; intercollegiate athletics.
According to Knoppers, Meyer, Ewing, and
Forrest (1991) “sport was invented for men by men
and is dominated by men” (p. 16). Thus, it is not
surprising to see that since the inception of Title
IX in 1972, which prohibited sex discrimination in
schools thereby enhancing the funding provided to
women’s teams, the percentage of women in lead-
ership positions in collegiate athletics (e.g., coach-
ing and administration) has dramatically decreased
(Acosta & Carpenter, 2002). Or as Fitzgerald, Sagaria,
and Nelson (1994) have put it, women essentially
have been “squeezed out of key leadership positions”
(p. 15) over this time frame. For example, according
to Acosta and Carpenter (2002), when Title IX was
enacted, a female administrator directed over 90% of
women’s athletic programs. However, by 1984, 31.6%
of all collegiate programs did not employ any women
in athletics administrator positions. The most recent
data suggest only slight improvements, as 18.8% of all
Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University,
College Station, Texas.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Depart-
ment of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University,
TAMU 4243, College Station, Texas 77843-4243; e-mail:
collegiate athletic programs still do not employ any
women in their administrative structures (Acosta &
One of the primary reasons for the decline
of female administrators was the proliferation of
programs that combined the management of their
male and female sports teams after the enactment
of Title IX—an action that consequently eliminated
the head athletic director role for women’s teams.
Furthermore, a majority of these programs’ head
athletic director positions were awarded to men, a
trend that continues to be evident to this day. For
example, data at the National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA) Division I level suggest that
women currently occupy just 8.7% of head athletic
director positions (despite the fact that they occupy
over 40% of the student–athlete participation of-
ferings at this level; Acosta & Carpenter, 2002).
Female administrators are also underrepresented in
lower level administration positions (e.g., associate
athletic director, assistant athletic director) and are
outnumbered by male administrators at this level by
a ratio of over 3 to 1 (Acosta & Carpenter, 2002).
Numerous researchers have examined the de-
cline of women from intercollegiate athletics coaching
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation