March is Women's History Month, and as the NCAA's celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX nears its culmination at the combined Women's Final Four in Dallas, it's worth looking at the recent trends for women in college sports.
"This is an opportune time to celebrate some of the positive trends for women's participation and leadership in intercollegiate athletics," said Amy Wilson, managing director of the NCAA's office of inclusion. "Most importantly, it's critical to recommit to increasing the number of women across all dimensions of diversity who are playing, coaching and administering college sports."
Below is a snapshot of some figures from NCAA research's demographics dashboard and sports sponsorship and participation rates dashboard that show the type of growth that's occurred for women in college sports at several levels.
226,212 — The number of student-athletes competing in NCAA women's championship sports in 2021-22. That represents a 5% increase (10,726 student-athletes) from 2020-21, the largest percentage increase for women since 2000-01. The biggest 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 (up 901, 6%). The biggest percentage increases between those two years were women's ice hockey (up 338, or 14%), fencing (up 84, 13%), rowing (up 631, 10%), water polo (up 121, 10%) and bowling (up 76, 10%).
30,555 — The increase in the total number of student-athletes competing in women's sports since 2011-12 across the NCAA, which represents an increase of 16%. Those competing in women's sports accounted for 43.5% of all student-athletes in the 2021-22 data, a 0.3 percentage point increase from 2011-12. The biggest percentage increases for women's sports from 2011-12 to 2021-22 include lacrosse (up 4,812, to 57%), bowling (up 312, to 26%), ice hockey (up 795, to 39%) and golf (up 969, to 20%).
6 — The percentage of student-athletes in the 2021-22 data competing in women's sports that became NCAA championship sports through the Emerging Sports for Women program. In total, 13,406 student-athletes participated in those five sports: rowing, ice hockey, water polo, bowling and beach volleyball. Women's rowing alone accounted for 6,827 student-athletes in 2021-22.
65 — The percentage increase for the number of beach volleyball student-athletes since the 2015-16 data (the first year it was an NCAA championship sport), going from 909 student-athletes to 1,499 in the 2021-22 data.
2,893 — The number of student-athletes participating in sports currently in the Emerging Sports for Women program. Those sports are acrobatics and tumbling, equestrian (Divisions I and II only), rugby, triathlon and wrestling. Stunt will be added to the emerging sport program for Division II in August. Sports in the Emerging Sports for Women program must be sponsored at a varsity level by at least 40 schools and must meet their sport's minimum competition and participant requirements before they can be legislatively considered for an NCAA championship.
Directors of athletics
63 — The increase in the number of female directors of athletics across all three divisions from 2011-12 (211 to 274) to 2021-22, a 30% uptick in the total number of women in that position.
25% — Females now hold 25% of directors of athletics roles in the most recent data, up from 20% in 2011-12.
6 — The percentage point increase for female directors of athletics in Division I (from 9% to 15%) from 2011-12 to 2021-22, the biggest percentage point increase among the three divisions. The increase from 33 to 53 female directors of athletics represents an increase of 61% in the number of women in the role in Division I.
147 —The number of female directors of athletics in Division III. The latest data showed that 33% of its schools have a female director of athletics, the highest of any division and a 5 percentage point increase from the 2011-12 data. Division II also saw a 5 percentage point increase during this time (19% to 24%), with 74 female directors of athletics across its member schools.
2 — The percentage point increase of female head coaches for all NCAA championship sports from 2011-12 to 2021-22 (from 23% to 25%) across all divisions. However, that percentage reached 25% in 2017-18 and has remained flat.
789 — The increase in the number of female head coaches from 2011-12 to 2021-22 across all three divisions. This number represents 42% of the total head coaches added in that span.
26 — The percentage of Division III head coaches who are women, the highest percentage among the three divisions. Divisions 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, which represents an increase of 1 percentage point since 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%). Division I's percentage of women's teams with a female head coach increased by 3 percentage points from 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 NCAA research) to 2021-22. The increase has been spread evenly among the three divisions, with each adding 29 female presidents/chancellors.
5 — The percentage point increase in representation for female presidents/chancellors across the NCAA. From 2016-17 to 2021-22, women went from accounting for 24% to 29% of all presidents/chancellors.
36 — The percentage of Division III schools with female presidents/chancellors, which equals 180 female leaders in the role. Both numbers are highest among the three divisions. Division II's percentage of female presidents/chancellors increased 7 percentage points between 2016-17 and 2021-22, from 22% to 29%. Division I, with 98 female presidents/chancellors reported in the latest data, increased from 17% to 23%.
44 — The number of conference commissioners who were women (30%) across the NCAA in 2021-22. This marks an increase of 6 percentage points from 2013-14 (the first year this data was reported to NCAA research).
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 at 23%, followed by Division II at 15%.
10 — The percentage point increase of 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 that period, with female commissioners accounting for 15% of the overall representation. Division I's number of female commissioners increased by one (from 11 to 12).
Head athletic trainers
69 — The increase in the number of female head athletic trainers since 2011-12 across the NCAA, a 21% uptick (328 to 397).
35% — The percentage of female head athletic trainers across the NCAA, a 5 percentage point increase 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, with 196 of 442. It's the highest such percentage among the three divisions, followed by Division II (36%, 113 of 310) and Division I (23%, 88 of 382).