J Athl Train 51: 557-65

Author(s): Mazerolle SM, Eason CM (2016a) Barriers to the role of head athletic trainer for women in national collegiate athletic association division II and III settings


Context: Very few women assume the role of head athletic trainer (AT). Reasons for this disparity include discrimination, motherhood, and a lack of interest in the position. However, data suggest that more women seek the head AT position in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II and III settings.

Objective: To examine the barriers female ATs face as they transition to the role of head AT.

Design: Qualitative study.

Setting: Divisions II and III.

Patients or Other Participants: In total, 77 female ATs participated in our study. Our participants (38 ± 9 years old) were employed as head ATs at the Division II or III level.

Data Collection and Analysis: We conducted online interviews with all participants. They journaled their reflections to a series of open-ended questions pertaining to their experiences as head ATs. Data were analyzed following a general inductive approach. Credibility was secured by peer review and researcher triangulation.

Results: Organizational and personal factors emerged as the 2 major themes that described challenges for women assuming the role of the head AT. Organizational barriers were defined by gender stereotyping and the “good old boys” network. Personal influences included a lack of leadership aspirations, motherhood and family, and a lack of mentors.

Conclusions: Female ATs working in Divisions II or III experienced similar barriers to assuming the role of the head AT as those working in the Division I setting. Stereotyping still exists within collegiate athletics, which limits the number of women in higher-ranking positions; however, a lack of desire to assume a higher position and the desire to balance work and home inhibit some women from moving up.

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