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Why do women's teams have male coaches? Is it sexism or are there other causes?

The Rio Olympic Games are already underway and some images that we have seen in them have set social networks on fire and are on the lips of all sports fans: since pacifiers from Michael Phelps to lifeguards in swimming competitions, through the analysis of sexism in sports broadcasts or the costumes of beach volleyball players. But there is a topic that has not been discussed much: omnipresence of male coaches in female teams.

What do the figures say?

The Rio Olympics will be the ones with a greater female participation in all history. 45% of the athletes present in the Olympics will be women: approximately 4,700 of the total of 10,444 participants. The following graph shows the evolution of the percentage of female athletes participating in the Games, since their presence was allowed for the first time in 1900.

Despite this data, the reality of the selectors is another: According to data from the Female Coaching Network, an association dedicated to promoting the presence of coaches in sport, only 11% of the national coaches in Rio are women.

The Professor Sarah Leberman, from Massey University, in New Zealand, is specialist in female leadership roles in sport. In his opinion, what happens in sport is a reflection of what happens in other fields, such as education or the business world, in which women are integrated into the labor chain, but are a clear minority in the positions of I send.

"Except in very specific sports, there is a culture dominated by men in sports and there are few models in which women can be inspired. If you are a sportswoman, and you have never had a female coach, it is difficult to think about: "I am going to dedicate myself to training," Leberman concludes.

One more fact that can help sustain Leberman's thesis on women in leadership positions: only 24 of the 106 members of the IOC are women (22.6%).

Does the situation change according to the country?

Female Coaching Network conducted a study by continents on the presence of women in the coach positions of the women's teams at the London Olympics. As can be seen in the following graph, Africa and South America are in the queue in the presence of coaches, while North America leads the classification (although with a poor 16%):

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For Rio 2016, there is still no definitive data on the percentage, although in the Female Coaching Network they say that not only has it not increased, but that there is a slight decrease in the percentage of women in command of teams with respect to London 2012.

If we analyze, within Europe, the specific case of Spain, we see that it is at the tail in the female presence in coach positions in these Olympic Games. Of the six female team sports involved, Only the traditionally feminine rhythmic gymnastics has a female coach (Anna Baranova). In the rest of sports, it is a man who directs the girls: Lucas Mondelo in basketball, Jorge Dueñas in handball, Adrián Lock in field hockey, Miki Oca in water polo and José Antonio Barrio in rugby 7.

Cases of success ... and failure

exist sports in which the presence of women seems somewhat more difficult than in the rest. The best example is football, where only 20% of coach positions (of male or female teams) are held by women. Even more serious: 97% of UEFA licenses, that is, European football, are in the male hands.

But there are also some cases in which history is reversed, like Helena Costa, who in 2014 became the first woman to lead a professional team of one of the major European leagues (the Clermont Foot 63, of the second French division) or Chan Yuen-ting, who with 27 years led Eastern to win the League in Hong Kong.

Another sports with the greatest worldwide impact, tennis has left us some recent stories about the presence of women as trainers. The first was the reaction to the election of Gala León as captain of the Spanish Davis Cup team. There were some controversial statements, such as those of Toni Nadal (coach and uncle of Rafa Nadal), stating that "it is still strange that there is a woman in the locker room, when you spend so much time in them with little clothes", and the captain It was finally dismissed a few months later.

But His replacement was another woman, the former Conchita Martínez, which received a much better reception from the Davis Cup team and whose presence, as coach of one of the most successful men's teams in Spanish sport, seems to settle the controversy that had opened the signing of Gala León.

Also the Scot Andy Murray is trained by a woman, the extenista Amelia Mauresmo. When he had to step out of some controversy over his election, Murray did not hesitate to declare: "If believing in equality means being a feminist, then yes, That is what I am".

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