Head Coach Gender and Player Performance in NCAA Softball

Courtney Paulson, Lindsey Darvin, David Berri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In some industry segments, more than 70% of leadership positions are held by men. This can often lead to the suggestion that men are more successful in leadership roles, particularly in areas where women are viewed to have no practical experience. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to find women and men in leadership positions where performance of the leader can be objectively evaluated, which can make it likewise difficult to establish if the gender identity of a leader makes a measurable difference. While men’s sports are an example of an industry dominated by gendered thinking in leadership, as women are assumed to be worse candidates for coaching positions due to a lack of familiarity with playing men’s sports, there is an exception to this general trend in women’s sports. In women’s sports, both women and men work as coaches, often in equivalent roles and positions. Consequently, we can scientifically evaluate if the gender of the coach impacts the outcomes we observe. In this article, we specifically consider the sport of college softball, where we note a more equal breakdown in coaching by gender than most other sports. The evidence from college softball indicates the gender of the coach does not impact outcomes. Specifically, we find the gender of the head coach does not appear to alter the performance of individual hitters and thus a team’s offensive production. Such findings challenge the gender stereotypes we see in coaching and leadership hiring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-186
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Economics, Race, and Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Gender
  • Head Coach
  • NCAA Softball
  • Player Performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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