Laura Burton

Ph.D. Candidates Integrate Open Dialogue Into Sport Management Courses

Several Neag School graduate students and faculty have been named 2019-20 Initiative on Campus Dialogues Fellows. This initiative brings together UConn students, staff, and faculty, as well as nonuniversity practitioners, to focus on dialogue and implementation. Sport Management graduate students Charles Macaulay and Ajhanai Newton, with Laura Burton and Justin Evanovich, are Fellows with their project “Sports Talk: Creating Dialogical Classrooms for the Development of Future Sport Leaders;” Read more about Neag School’s ICD Fellows for 2019-20.

Courses and Curriculum: EDLR 3345

UConn’s Department of Educational Leadership (EDLR) offers a rich and diverse curriculum that prepares both undergraduate and graduate students to be educational leaders in our ever-changing world. The “Courses and Curriculum” series highlights innovative courses within EDLR’s catalog that are changing the education game for the better.

In EDLR 3345: Financial Management in the Sport Industry, taught by Professor Laura Burton, Ph.D., is an undergraduate course which provides Sport Management majors with an understanding of the financial principles relevant to the sport industry. The course examines basic financial concepts and issues related to sport, and offers an overview of ownership, taxation, financial analysis, feasibility and economic impact studies within the sport industry.

Dr. Laura Burton in the front of a classroom during SPM meeting
One of the biggest challenges Burton says especially with a course that is math-related is helping students get over the “math-hating mentality.” - Dr. Laura Burton

Burton identified a need for this content and added the course to the curriculum, five years ago.  While Burton’s research is centered around leadership in sport organizations and gender issues in sport, EDLR 3345 pushed her outside of her traditional area of expertise, offering a great opportunity and challenge. Having an applied math-based course helps to answer real-world questions within the sport industry, one that the students are benefiting from.

As sport organizations attempt to create a more inclusive space, in regards to social and gender identity, people in higher level positions are faced with some important questions. In what ways can professional sport organizations maximize revenue? And who benefits? What communities are disadvantaged? Burton explains how not only do students consider the financial impact of budget cuts within the sport industry, for example, but the social impact as well. Such a fundamental course provides students with the tools to build on their understanding of budgets and further develop these ideas in other related and unrelated fields.

By using practical applications and case studies, Burton is able to create real-life scenarios depicting real-life budgeting dilemmas. In one such budgeting case, Burton presents a $40,000 budget cut and challenges her students to make the cut in the most effective manner. The experiment suggests that such a cut would leave athletes without scholarships, slash salaries, and limit job availability.  

One of the biggest challenges Burton says especially with a course that is math-related is helping students get over the “math-hating mentality.” Burton admits that there was a lot that she had to learn and continues to learn alongside her students. Within education, it’s easy to experience feelings of frustration and anxiety when learning something new, but she continues to push herself and her students and says,

“Sometimes we forget what it feels like to be the student and sit in the seat.”

Welcoming Dr. Jane Nguyen for the Empower Women Through Sports Initiative

Dr. Tra Giang “Jane” Nguyen
Dr. Tra Giang “Jane” Nguyen

Each year, the U.S. Department of State, the Center for Sport, Peace & Society at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and espnW co-sponsor the Global Sports Mentoring Program’s (GSMP) Empower Women Through Sports. This is an international leadership development initiative that recognizes female achievement in sport, and aims to empower women to be ambassadors of change for female athletes around the world. The initiative is based on evidence that women and girls who are exposed to sport increase their chances of success both on the field and in other areas of their lives.

“When women and girls can walk on the playing field, they are more likely to step into the classroom, the boardroom, and step out as leaders in society.”

-U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

This year GSMP is partnering 15 emerging female leaders from 14 countries with leading executives and experts in the U.S. sports industry. We are excited to announce that the Department of Educational Leadership’s Laura Burton, Danielle DeRosa  and Jennifer McGarry were selected to serve as mentors to an emerging leader from Vietnam, Dr. Tra Giang “Jane” Nguyen. This is DeRosa’s second year as a program mentor, while both Burton and McGarry will be serving as mentors for the third year in a row. The Department welcomed Dr. Nguyen on October 5th and will host her until October 24th.

Dr. Nguyen’s passion for sport began at a young age as she excelled as a top youth table tennis player. However, her achievements in sport would grow beyond her success as an athlete. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, she moved to Thailand to pursue her M.S. and Ph.D. in Exercise and Sport Management from Burapha University. During her studies she was exposed to Sport Management and Psychology for the first time, which prompted her to create the first non-physical sport curriculum when she returned to Vietnam – including courses in sport management, marketing, economics, and tourism.

In her current role as a professor with the Institute of Sport Science and Technology at the University of Sport Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Dr. Nguyen bridges the theories she teaches in the classroom with real-world experience – often inviting her students to assist her in coordinating major sport conferences and other events throughout the year. In 2017, Jane organized the International Conference on Sport Management, the first university sport conference ever held in Vietnam with more than 200 professors representing 28 countries.

Dr. Tra Giang “Jane” Nguyen with Men's Hockey Player
Dr. Nguyen with a Member of the Thailand National Men’s Hockey Team

In addition to her university work, Dr. Nguyen served as general manager for Thailand’s men’s and women’s national ice hockey teams at the 2017 Asian Games in Japan where the men won the gold medal. She also managed the team during the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia where the men won the silver medal. She currently works within the association to secure funding to run ice hockey camps for girls and women.

Dr. Nguyen is also currently working on a major project inspired by her time with Sport for Tomorrow, an initiative led by the Japanese government. Specifically her project titled, “Walk and Run for Tomorrow” will consist of a marathon and other racing events for students with and without disabilities in Ho Chi Minh City.

In her featured GSMP emerging leader profile, she explains “In Southeast Asian countries, we are very patriarchal. Women never have time to exercise or think about sports. That is why I work with students. I want to change the mindset in Vietnam so that women can participate in sports. And I want to show people it isn’t only physical education; sport can make the lives of all people better.” Although there are barriers for women to participate in sport, Jane sees her role as an advocate in this regard.

“We are so pleased to continue our involvement in this exciting and meaningful program. GSMP has has such a positive impact on the lives of girls and women around the world, and we lucky to play a role in support of the program. Dr. Nguyen is a natural ‘fit’ with us here at UConn, as she teaches and supports students in sport management at her university, while also seeking to positively impact the lives of girls and women through sport and physical activity.”

-Dr. Laura Burton, UConn Sport Management Professor and GSMP Mentor

Throughout the month, Dr. Nguyen will be spending time with Sport Management faculty at UConn to learn more about the context of sport in the U.S., non-profit development and social entrepreneurship, and gender and leadership development in sport. To share the GSMP mission more broadly with the UConn community, the Sport Management Program will host Dr. Sarah Hillyer, Director of the Center for Sport, Peace & Society at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, to talk about empowerment through sport on October 11, 2018. This event will be a part of the Beyond the Field Speaker Series, and is free and open to the public.

To date, GSMP has graduated 99 delegates who have gone on to impact 225,000 lives in more than 55 countries. Our department is fortunate to have had the opportunity to mentor delegates and be a part of this change. We look forward to continuing to carry out this mission, and are excited to welcome Dr. Nguyen this year!

Learn more through this featured GSMP video or visit the U.S. Department of State’s GSMP website. Or, check out GSMP on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Publication: Women in Sport Leadership

Dr. Laura Burton, headshotDr. Laura Burton co-authors new book on Women in Sport Leadership which highlights that “although women and girls participate in sport in greater numbers than ever before, research shows there has been no significant increase in women leading sport organizations. This book takes an international, evidence-based perspective in examining women in sport leadership and offers future directions for improving gender equity. With contributions from leading international sport scholars and practitioners, it explores the opportunities and challenges women face while exercising leadership in sport organizations and evaluates leadership development practices.”

 

 

Co-Authors of Women in Sport Leadership book

Pictured here are the contributing authors (L-R): Nef Walker, University of Massachusetts; Sarah Leberman, Massey University; Meg Hancock, University of Louisville; Laura Burton, UConn Neag School of Education; Heidi Grappendorf, University of Cincinnati; Janelle Wells, University of South Florida; and Nicole Melton, University of Massachusetts.

 

 

Laura Burton on Women in Leadership Positions in Sport Organizations

Editor’s Note: This story, written by Matt Barresi of The Daily Campus, originally appeared on their website as part of their Women in Sports Week (WISW) series.

The fight for equality in sport takes place everywhere. Right here ata the University of Connecticut, Laura Burton, an associate professor in the Neag School of Education and one of the co-heads of the Sport Management program, is doing her part.

A former athlete and NCAA Division III Athletic Trainer, Burton returned to her native Nutmeg state to complete her education here at Laura Burton teachingUConn and since then has dedicated her work in large part to research about the roles of gender in sports. She also served as a faculty member at North Carolina State University.

“Because I lived it. I was always the kid who felt like the girls weren’t getting fair gym time in high school or we didn’t have equal uniforms...” Burton said on what inspired her to get into this line of research. “I knew I wanted to study something I had experienced.”

As a professional some of her earlier work focused on how athletics benefited women, now she has a more concise focus, women in leadership positions.

“There are very few women in leadership positions in sports organizations across all domains, from interscholastic, intercollegiate, professional or international sport, women are really underrepresented in leadership.” Burton said.

The discrepancy has no logical basis either.

“Think, half your participant population is women, or girls, why don’t we have an equal number of people at the leadership table?”

Burton, and her peers in the field, find it to be due to our perceptions on who should be in those roles which hurts women.

She says, “We don’t perceive women to be capable of and/or do we want them in leadership positions in general. In sport organizations, because we think it’s a real male domain, we don’t think that women can run a football program or an athletic department. There’s a lot of stereotyping that's influencing women, both trying to get into those positions and how we evaluate them when they’re in it.”

However, women in leadership roles is where UConn first gets accolades from Burton when it comes to women in sports here in Storrs.

“Beth Goetz (the Chief Operating Officer of UConn Athletics) is not only a women in leadership but the types of roles she has are really important,” Burton notes.

“She’s in charge of football. That is critical for her to continue to be successful. To be an Athletic Director, you need to have demonstrated you can handle what is the largest team with the greatest amount of operating expenses, and the greatest opportunity for revenue generation,” she said.

David Benedict’s willingness to put her in such a vital role signals to Goetz, and the intercollegiate athletic community, that she will be an AD one day. It’s an opportunity not often provided to women and Burton credits Benedict for the initiative, believing it will help propel Goetz to her higher career goals.

However that doesn’t mean UConn is doing everything right.

“I call them on the carpet for not having as many women coaching women’s sports. I think we have arguably the best coach in the women’s (basketball) game and I think he (Geno Auriemma) does an excellent job supporting assistant coaches but I think he made a mistake a couple weeks ago when he said there aren’t enough women interested in coaching.”

Says Burton, “I think that’s patently false. There are a lot of women interested in coaching, but there are a lot of constraints put on women that want positions in coaching. You don’t see a lot of women lose jobs and get re-hired and it's a real problem.”

“I’d like to see UConn seek more women’s coaching on the women’s side and it’d be wonderful to see women coaching on the men’s side... I think our support for our women athletes is phenomenal but I also think there’s always places to provide more resources and more equity,” she said.

The problems that face UConn are representative of problems across women’s sports as a whole however. When it comes to improvement, nearly everyone makes the list.

According to Burton, “Who's doing well? Not many. There are few organizations that really do well, the one that comes to mind and it’s probably not going to be a surprise, is the WNBA because they do have women in leadership positions.”

“But it’s the one professional sport organization in the US that’s at the highest profile for women. The rest, honestly I don’t think are doing well at all. I don’t think any of the major men’s professional sport organizations are and I think intercollegiate athletics are doing terrible.”

The number of women leading FBS schools, school that play the highest level of football and subsequently often have the largest athletic departments, is less than 10 percent.

The number of women coaching in women’s sports is declining year after year. And there’s no balancing effect, because while more men become coaches of women's sports, there are really no women becoming coaches in men's sports.

Burton points to The Institute for Ethics and Diversity in Sport (TIDES), as a great evaluator of this. Under the the Direction of Dr. Richard Lapchick from the University of Central Sport, they annually release “Report Cards” grading the practices and statuses of the major sport leagues as well as the intercollegiate athletic system. According to TIDES, college basketball as a whole has improved in recent years while football at all levels continues to score miserably.

“I think the whole industry still needs to look and see ‘Why are there so few women?’” said Burton.

One of the biggest areas of momentum in the movement for equality was the recent protest from the US Women’s National Team for both hockey and soccer.

“It speaks to a bigger problem that they had to go to that extent, where they had to threaten to not participate, to get the governing body of their sport to then negotiate for a contract,” Burton said on the issue. “There should’ve been a recognition that actually these women are playing at the highest level and representing our country extremely well, they’re champions, they’re medalists, they’re contenders, why did it take (threatening to boycott) to get equal pay?”

Burton thinks as a whole this could be the next big thing for women who want their fair share.

“I suspect that this is going to unleash for a lot of our national teams. I wonder if some of our team-based sports are going to look across at their male counterparts and wonder why they aren’t being provided equal resources,” Burton said.

What else is next?

“I continue to support and hope we will see equal pay for our men’s and women’s coaches. That’s a problem when you look across comparable sports. That’s an area where people are starting to pay more attention,” Burton said.

Dr. Laura Burton delivering a speechCoaching is an issue Burton holds in importance.

“I hope people are starting to pay more attention to why we’re losing so many women in sports. My colleague Nicole Lavoi from the Tucker Center for Girls and Women in Sport is documenting what has become a pretty significant decline in women coaching in sport at the college level. This isn’t good, we shouldn’t be losing women as coaches, but rather be fostering and supporting young women who want to be coaches.”

Burton is committed to this for the long haul.

“I’m going to stay in this because I still think there’s more work to be done,” she said. “There’s lots of science that says gender stereotypes influence how comfortable we are with women. We haven’t fully fleshed out how that’s influencing women in sport organizations and I’d like to continue to really explore that.”

While women deserve equality in all domains, and will continue to push for what is rightfully theirs, in the world of sports it's going to be a process. With all issues of that comes to basic rights, there’s always going to be individual or group feats of activism and those who promote change and those who prohibit it. While all this unfolds, the work of Burton, and the increased exposure, should make us all more conscientious as fans of sport.

 

View this story as it originally appeared on The Daily Campus' website.