Why Are There No Women Managers In The Premier League?

As the 7th Women’s World Cup takes place in Canada, a third of the 24 national football teams are managed by women, but don’t expect to see a woman manager in the Premier League anytime soon…

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As it happens, it’s interesting to note that of the match officials, 100% are women, and while that’s a related point I’ll come back to later, for this article I want to focus on the manager. So, why is the percentage so low?

Well, for it to be a third of the teams having a woman manager is actually quite a high percentage when you look at the women’s game as a whole. There are 65 women who hold a UEFA Pro coaching licence, compared to, wait for it, 9,387 men!

Those numbers are a stark illustration of the issue, and before we look at the reason behind that differential in numbers, let’s ask what the numbers mean for the chance of a woman getting to the Premier League. (Here’s a hint – not much chance!)

If you look at the make up of managers in the Premier League, which is one of the richest leagues in any world sport, you can roughly put them into 3 categories –

1. The unknown British manager that has taken the club up through the lower leagues.
2. The ex-top-flight player, who went into management and has a solid if not spectacular CV.
3. The foreign coach who has proven success at the highest club level.

Football is all about results, and I think you can also divide the Premier League into 3 categories –

1. Chasing for the title, or at least a top 4 finish to secure Champions League football.
2. A solid mid table club looking to consolidate that position.
3. A lower table, or newly promoted club, putting survival in the Premier League as their absolute priority.

If you combine those 3 types of clubs with the pool of the 3 types of manager, it’s hard for an outsider to break through. Hard that is, for any of the 9,387 men with the Pro licence. For the 65 women, pretty much impossible.

A woman coach is likely to be an ex-player, but they won’t have proven top flight success, without experience at top clubs, which they won’t get without experience at lower level clubs, which they won’t get with such competition from male coaches.

So, why is that number of coaches *so* low in the first place..?

I think you can sum it up in one word – culture.

At the highest level, football is a macho game. At grass roots level, it’s even *more* of a macho game. Any Sunday morning spent watching a junior league, hearing parents spitting venom as they scream at their own kids, any other kids, the refs, other parents, will show you that.

It’s got to be a certain type of male to want to put themselves into that kind of world, so for a woman it’s even harder.

I did mention the refs earlier. Male officials have a terrible time with abuse at all levels of the game, and women get it just as bad, but with sexism thrown in.

It’s a deliberate ploy for FIFA to have all women officials at the women’s World Cup, and while they have a rule that their Under 21 tournament teams have to have women *coaches*, that’s not the case at the full senior level.

Could it be that the answer is to employ the NFL’s ‘Rooney Rule?’
With that rule, an NFL team looking for a new head coach, has to interview at least one black candidate.

Could that work for women in football management, or would it just be a patronising waste of time?

I’m not sure. I suspect that at the moment it would indeed be a waste if time, a box ticking exercise, but in the long term it might start to have a impact. It could be that chairmen of lower level teams who would never have considered a woman manager, get surprised by what they see and hear if they are forced to have them at interview.

That in turn could lead to chairmen hiring a woman that wouldn’t even have been seen otherwise, which in turn might provide more role models, and then more women going into coaching in the first place.

A woman manager in the Premier League? I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t start hold your breath just yet though.

Ok, let me know what you think, I love the feedback!

‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. I’m thinking about letting people watch as I open a brand new income stream online from sport. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, make sure you are friends with me on facebook!

Do leave a comment!

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    • That’s a nice piece. Sport still has a way to go – because there are clear distinctions between the mens and womens ‘versions’ of most sports, it’s assumed the coaches of male teams will be male. Surprise surprise it doesn’t seem to work the other way with many males in charge of female sports teams.
      Women like Jen Welter are providing the light for others to follow in the same way that the women you feature are – they sure do rock indeed!
      cheers, Gordon

  • Hi Gordon,

    Why there are no women managers in the premium league? Its because they think that men are better suited for the job and I believe that it is impossible for the 65 women to ever get a chance for the job.

    In this field, women are treated like second class citizens and yes it is sexist.

    I never heard of the Rooney Rule and that’s so unfair. I think a black man has more of a chance to get a job then a woman.

    You have an awesome weekend!


    • The positive discrimination angle, like the Rooney rule, is always a grey area, because in order to bypass discrimination against one group, you are discriminating against another group.
      There are pros and cons.
      I think the direction of movement with women managers is in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go!
      cheers, Gordon