MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wednesday is National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

Here in the Twin Cities, the Minnesota History Center hosted a celebration and awards program. Gov. Mark Dayton stopped by to congratulate the honorees.

But the findings of a new report show a major setback for female coaches at colleges and universities.

Dr. Nicole LaVoi is the author of the report, and the associate director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport.

“Most people have no idea. They’re completely unaware, and find it quite surprising and shocking,” LaVoi said.

The report released Wednesday by the University of Minnesota shows that the percentage of women coaching women at the collegiate level has dropped significantly.

It declined from 90 percent in 1974 to a near all-time low of 40 percent today. Part of the decline has to do with more men now applying for jobs that only women wanted back in the 70s.

At that time, the salaries were low and there was little interest in women’s sports by the fans. As interest increased, so did the salaries.

“There’s more visibility, there’s more legitimacy, more money. And it’s much more lucrative to coach women today than it’s ever been before,” LaVoi said.

She says another contributing factor is on the hiring side.

“Coaches are hired by athletic directors and we know from research that people in power like to hire people like themselves,” LaVoi said. “And most of the athletic directors are males.”

The purpose of the study is to document the number of women coaches and also start a national conversation about why the numbers are dropping — and who we can stop the decline.

So why should we care?

“Girls are in desperate need of female role models and so are boys. So if we want to change ideas about gender and leadership in society, coaching is a good way to have powerful, visible, active women in our communities,” LaVoi said.

The report gave grades to each of the college conferences for their percentages of women head coaches.

The Big Ten scored a C. None of the conferences earned an A or B.

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