Building a Pathway for Women in Coaching

Building a Pathway for Women in Coaching

For several years, Rowing Canada Aviron has been working diligently to build a pathway for women coaches in Canada. The presence of women coaches attending all levels of coaching education and engaged in the Coach Developer pathway has increased over the last 5 years. It was exciting to see 7 women out of the 13 coaches attend Performance Coach workshop training in 2023. Most recently, 11 women out of 20 coaches participated in a cohort of RCA Performance Coach. In 2024, 9 out of the 15 Facilitators who delivered the NCCP modules in this workshop were women.

The “Made in Canada” coaching development program for high-potential coaches has a 50/50 female and male split. We are starting to see significant momentum in the pathway.

Coach education itself does not make a pathway. The training and development needs to come with opportunity. One way that coaches gain experience is through their involvement in our U19 and U23 high performance programs. We have a strong representation of women in these roles, with a 50/50 male-female split in our NextGen seasonal coaching team. These talented women are responsible for much of our success, most recently the U23 women’s eight reaching the podium at the U23 World Championships and the women’s eight winning Gold at the Pan American Games. The lightweight men’s u23 quad and lightweight women’s single who also reached the podium in 2023 benefitted from the leadership of women coaches.

Women are increasingly attaining leadership positions as the head coaches at member clubs, Universities and Provincial Rowing Associations.

Rowing Canada Aviron has been successful in accessing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion grants through the Coaching Association of Canada to increase the participation of women and EDI-eligible participants.

In recent years, Rowing Canada Aviron has undertaken specific initiatives to change the culture and conditions within the National Training Centre.  A comprehensive gender audit paved the way for changes in recruitment strategies, job descriptions, and the creation of flexible working conditions for coaches, particularly for women coaches. These adjustments aimed to mitigate the systemic biases identified in the audit. Furthermore, Rowing Canada has undergone a thorough overhaul of its compensation framework, ensuring pay equity within job families and specific roles.

We are seeing a growing presence of strong female leadership in our National Training Centre, specifically, our Women’s Sculling program is led by a highly skilled female coach, and women also fulfill senior leadership roles in Para Rowing and Sports Medicine. The culture and conditions within the daily training environment benefit from our High-Performance staffing currently operating with a 50/50 female and male split, in favour of women.

When it comes to the assignment of coaches at the highest levels in our programs, the needs of the athletes and crew in pursuit of their goals, and what we believe to be their potential, become central to the decision-making process. These decisions are made after careful consideration, feedback, and consultation with all stakeholders. We strive to be athlete-centered and decisions are made with performance in mind.

Rowing Canada Aviron, much like the entire sports community, is committed to seeing a higher representation of women in senior coaching roles. We are working hard to build a pathway and foster a more inclusive and diverse environment within our organization, that supports and promotes women coaches. We continue to benefit from programming provided by our international partners, designed to help female coaches develop their leadership skills, confidence and careers. Programs such as the World Rowing – Female Coaches Network, and the IOC – Women in Sport High-performance pathway program (WISH). We are encouraged by the quality of talented women coaches moving up in our system.

We recognize that there is always room for improvement. We remain open to ideas from our partners and the rowing community on how we can further enhance our support for women in leadership and coaching roles. We encourage open dialogue and welcome constructive feedback to continuously improve and strengthen our commitment to equality, diversity, and excellence in rowing.

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