Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Flowers, Chair, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Broughton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Barott, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tricia McTague, Ph.D.


The implementation of Title IX has increased women’s participation rates in intercollegiate athletics tenfold, yet women’s representation in athletic leadership remains marginal compared to men. As such, the purpose of this study was to understand the social construction of gender as it relates to intercollegiate athletic leadership at Eastern Michigan University. The study explored the history of sporting activities as a mechanism to shape and perpetuate masculine and feminine culture. These values (i.e, competitiveness and cooperativeness) were institutionalized in higher education as sex-segregated physical education and athletic functions. This historical case study applied organizational and institutional theory analyzing the institutional, task, and cultural environments of men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletics. Men and women managed distinct athletic production functions reassured by the greater cultural environment and legitimized by regulatory bodies in the institutional environment. Changes imposed from Title IX in the institutional environment were met with opposition from the cultural environment. The task environment, however, supported the male model of intercollegiate athletics and absorbed women’s athletics as mandated by Title IX. Therefore, the majority of women athletic leaders remained in alignment with their positions as congruent to the dominant cultural environment and thus created a vacuum of coaches and administrators who once were occupying 90% of women athletic leadership. The task environment, which supported a technical core of producing competitive games, filled coaching appointments for the women’s program. Today, the cultural environment accepts participation of women in sports, yet women as intercollegiate athletic leaders still confront resistance from the cultural environment. This research provides a new perspective to women in sport while affirming the power of culture on our athletic institutions.