March is Women’s History Month, and as the celebration of the 50th anniversary of NCAA Title IX nears its climax at the Combined Women’s Final Four in Dallas, it’s worth taking a look at the latest trends for women in college sports.
“This is an opportune time to celebrate some of the positive trends in women’s participation and leadership in intercollegiate athletics,” said Amy Wilson, managing director of the NCAA’s Office of Inclusion. “Most importantly, it is critical to recommit to increasing the number of women in all dimensions of diversity who play, coach and manage college sports.”
Below is a snapshot of some numbers from the NCAA Demographics Dashboard and Sports Sponsorships and Participation Rates Dashboard that show the type of growth women are seeing in college sports at several levels.
226,212 — The number of student-athletes competing in NCAA Women’s Championships in 2021-22. This represents a 5 percent increase (10,726 student-athletes) from 2020-21, the largest percentage increase for women since 2000-01 d. The largest increases for individual women’s sports from 2020-21 to 2021-22 were soccer (up 2,030, or 7%), indoor track and field (up 1,562, 6%), volleyball (up 1,107, 6 %), basketball (up 942.6%) and cross country (901.6%). The largest percentage increases between these two years were for women’s ice hockey (338 or 14%), fencing (84, 13%), rowing (631, 10%), water polo (121, 10%) and bowling (with 76, 10%).
30,555 — The increase in the total number of student-athletes competing in women’s sports since 2011-12 in the NCAA, a 16 percent increase. Those competing in women’s sports represented 43.5% of all student-athletes in the 2021-22 data, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from 2011-12. The largest percentage increases for women sports from 2011-12 to 2021-22 include lacrosse (up 4,812, up 57%), bowling (up 312, up 26%), ice hockey (up 795, up 39%) and golf (up 969, up 20%) ).
6 — The percentage of student-athletes in the 2021-22 data who compete in women’s sports that have become NCAA championship sports through the Emerging Sports for Women program. A total of 13,406 student-athletes participated in these five sports: rowing, ice hockey, water polo, bowling and beach volleyball. Women’s rowing alone represents 6,827 student-athletes in 2021-22.
65 — The percentage increase in beach volleyball student-athletes from 2015-2016 data (the first year it was an NCAA Championship sport), going from 909 student-athletes to 1,499 in 2021-22 data.
3 204 — The number of student-athletes participating in sports currently enrolled in the Emerging Sports for Women program. These sports are acrobatics and acrobatics, equestrian (divisions I and II only), rugby, triathlon and wrestling. Stunt will be added to the emerging Division II sports program in August. Sports in the Emerging Sports for Women program must be sponsored at the collegiate level by at least 40 schools and must meet minimum competition and participant requirements in their sport before they can be legislatively considered for an NCAA championship.
Directors of Athletics
63 — The increase in the number of female athletics directors in all three divisions from 2011-12 (211 to 274) to 2021-22, a 30 percent increase in the total number of women in that position.
25% — Women now hold 25 percent of athletic director roles according to the most recent data, up from 20 percent in 2011-12.
6 — The percentage point increase for female athletics directors in Division I (from 9 percent to 15 percent) from 2011-12 to 2021-22, the largest percentage point increase among the three divisions. The increase from 33 to 53 female athletics directors represents a 61 percent increase in the number of women in the role in Division I.
147 — The number of women athletics directors in Division III. The latest figures show 33 percent of its schools have a female athletics director, the highest of any division and a 5 percentage point increase from 2011-12 figures. Division II also saw a 5 percentage point increase during that time (19% to 24%), with 74 female athletics directors at member schools.
2 — The percentage point increase in female head coaches for all NCAA Championship sports from 2011-12 to 2021-22 (from 23% to 25%) across all divisions. However, this percentage reached 25% in 2017-18 and remained unchanged.
789 — The increase in the number of female head coaches from 2011-12 to 2021-22 in all three divisions. That number represents 42% of the total number of head coaches added during that period.
26 — The percentage of Division III head coaches who are women, the highest percentage among the three divisions. Sections I and II were close at 25% and 22% respectively.
41 — The percentage of NCAA women’s teams with a female head coach in 2021-22, an increase of 1 percentage point from 2011-12. Division III has the highest such percentage of women’s teams coached by women at 44%, followed by Division I (42%) and Division II (36%). The percentage of women’s teams with a female head coach in Division I has increased by 3 percentage points since 2011-12 (39%).
87 — The increase in the number of female presidents/chancellors at NCAA schools from 2016-17 (the first year this data was reported to the NCAA study) through 2021-22. The increase is spread evenly among the three divisions, with each adding 29 female presidents/chancellors.
5 — Percentage increase in representation of women presidents/chancellors in the NCAA. From 2016-17 to 2021-22, women went from 24% to 29% of all presidents/chancellors.
36 — The percentage of Division III schools with female presidents/provosts, which equates to 180 female leaders in the role. Both numbers are the highest among the three divisions. The percentage of female presidents/chancellors in Division II increased by 7 percentage points between 2016-17 and 2021-22, from 22% to 29%. Division I, with 98 female presidents/chancellors reported as of the latest data, increased from 17% to 23%.
44 — The number of conference members who are women (30%) in the NCAA in 2021-22. This marks an increase of 6 percentage points from 2013-14 (the first year this data was reported to the NCAA study).
41 — The percentage of Division III conferences with female commissioners (28 of 68) in 2021-22, the highest among the three divisions. Division I was next with 23%, followed by Division II with 15%.
10 — Percentage increase in Division III conferences to have female commissioners from 2013-14 to 2021-22. The number of female Commissioners in Division II doubled (from two to four) during this period, with female Commissioners accounting for 15% of the total representation. The number of female commissioners in Division I increased by one (from 11 to 12).
Head Athletic Trainers
69 — The increase in the number of female head athletic trainers since 2011-12 in the NCAA, a 21 percent increase (328 to 397).
35% — The percentage of female head athletic trainers in the NCAA, up 5 percentage points from 2011-12. All three divisions saw increases of 5 percentage points.
44% — The percentage of Division III schools with a female head athletic trainer, at 196 out of 442. That’s the highest such percentage among the three divisions, followed by Division II (36 percent, 113 out of 310) and Division I (23 percent, 88 out of 382).