NCAA Division I Senior Woman Administrators’ Perceptions of Barriers to Career Mobility

Allison B. Smith – University of New Mexico
Elizabeth A. Taylor – Temple University
Jessica A. Siegele – University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Robin Hardin – University of Tennessee


There has been an increase in collegiate sport participation for women, but that has not led to women obtaining more leadership positions in collegiate sport. Several barriers (e.g., lack of mentorship, gender norms, homologous reproduction, and work-life conflict) have been identified as influencers to career mobility of women in college athletics and their accession to leadership positions. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of career mobility from NCAA Division I Senior Woman Administrators (SWAs) through a multi-level approach. Interviews with 14 NCAA Division I SWAs found an overarching theme of Restricted Career Mobility. Themes that emerged to support this were Macro-Level Barriers to Career Mobility, Meso-Level Barriers to Career Mobility, and Micro-Level Barriers to Career Mobility detailing experiences with institutionalized gender norms, bullying, familial and partner obligations, loyalty towards their current institution, and the external requirements of the athletic director position. These findings have organizational culture implications for athletic departments and the NCAA as a whole, as career mobility should be examined from a holistic approach.