Female Pros: Women Teaching Professionals Make More Than Men

Female Pros: Women Teaching Professionals Make More Than Men

The first posting in our series “The Female Pro” of articles and podcasts focusing on women in the tennis and country club industry. In coming weeks and months we will be featuring female professionals on our BeyondTheBaselines.com Podcast along with articles investigating female teaching professionals and their participation in and affect on our industry.

Women do make more than men… teaching tennis. The USTA announced recently that they are pushing, in conjunction with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), for more women to enter the industry as teaching professionals. Although this is a lofty goal, what it does speak of is the short supply of women professionals. With such a short supply, demand is high. So is the take home pay of most female professionals in comparison to male counterparts at the same teaching level.

It’s been mentioned by women, whom we believed would be great instructors and ambassadors for the sport, that in large part they feel teaching tennis is a male-dominated profession. They may be right. Only 23 percent of teaching instructors and members of the United States Professional Association are women across the nation, according to the USPTA. This statistic really speaks to the law of supply and demand: such a low number creates a high demand for women professionals.

As a management consulting firm, we found interesting the announcement from USTA Florida which quotes Vice President of the USPTA National Board Trish Faulkner. Faulkner wants to add to the number of female pros and believes that it should be a focus of the USTA and USPTA. At this time, with such a demand for female teaching professionals, adding to the numbers of female pros could actually financially injure the current female pros in the industry. Adding additional female pros might lessen the current demand for female professionals as these organizations hope to expand the numbers of female teaching pros.

We have seen this at clubs and facilities in a broader way. Simply adding additional teaching pros “waters-down” the demand for lessons across the pool of pros at that club. Adding female pros to the industry might “water-down” the demand for a female teacher. We believe there is a lot of room in the industry but current female pros might see a drop in their income due to more supply over the coming years.

That being said, there is more work than there are female professionals. Clubs and facilities, both seasonal and year-round, continually search for female instructors to bolster staffs and cater to their membership and clients who prefer female instructors. One of the first questions we receive as a search consultant is: “Do you know any women professionals who might be a good fit for this job description?”

Changing The Norm

“I am seeing a great trend in the last few years where many of our certified young women USPTA members have gone after and secured high-level tennis positions,” said Faulkner, who notes USPTA membership is only 23% female. “There is still a perception that many high-level tennis jobs go to insiders or friends of directors, but we have educated general managers and other directors to check credentials and certification and look for the best person for the position.”

USPTA Certification is becoming more encompassing with 1500 hours of apprenticeship to include 1200 hours of experimental teaching and 300 hours of online course work and mentoring. These changes, making it certainly more of a process to become a certified professional, might affect the numbers of those entering the professional ranks. It could also affect the ratio of newly certified pros between male and female.

Female Sensibilities

When we act as a management consultant for clubs or as a search consultant for facilities, we here at BeyondTheBaselines.com always discuss the possibility of having one or two female teaching pros on staff, if not to serve as the Director of Tennis. There are several reasons why a woman professional on staff or running the program makes very good sense.

We all know that women are more sensible than men, don’t we? Well this may or may not be true, but there is definitely a sense among female students that a womanly understanding of the game while teaching a woman’s clinic can make all the difference. And why shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t female instructors better understand the women’s doubles game? Shouldn’t a woman instructor better understand the obstacles facing women players? We tend to believe that would be the case. The fact is that many students tell us that female instructors, in general, are better understanding the intricacies of women’s doubles and the strategies facing a woman’s double pair than their male counterparts.

We have found there are several reasons why female professionals, along with the fact that supply is low and demand is high, are paid more than their male counterparts. Over the next several weeks in our Series “The Female Pro” we will investigate some of the motivating factors leading to a higher pay scale and why female instructors often find themselves with more hours on-court than their male colleagues.

Jennifer Gelhaus, who beyondthebaselines.com announced as the new Director of Tennis at East Chop Tennis Club, Martha’s Vineyard, MA, changed careers and has instructed at some of the most elite clubs in the nation following a career in research technology.

Empirically, we have found that female professionals over the same period make on average 18% more in take-home pay than their male counterparts at similar positions. This data, collected through clubs for which we have consulted, provides us with some interesting numbers. Across the same level of position, women instructors tend to be on approximately the same hourly rate. For example, a female head professional average hourly rate has been in the region of $44 per hour taking total take home, on-court pay divided by time spent on court. Their male counterparts are slightly higher at just above $46 per hour. However, female professionals are on the court more. They are booked for privates up to 15% more than their male counterparts, both at the same facility and then if extrapolated over total number of hours taught across our data. Therefore, in our studies, female professionals total on-court revenues are higher than their male colleagues.

Clubs and facilities have understood these numbers, whether consciously or unknowingly. In general, employers have rewarded female professionals with a higher salary or stipend as the facility finds it has a greater revenue stream from retained percentages in connection with female instructors. We found, that facilities tend to reimburse female professionals slightly higher in relation to the revenues retained by the facility being higher.

Harking back to the short supply of female instructors, female pros can also garner a higher salary. Founder of Cardio Tennis Michele Krause explains through her comments to USTA Florida that the fixed hourly rate of compensation is an old model and should be updated. We agree and believe that female professionals coming into the industry have the opportunity to flip that model on its head. With such a dearth of female instructors, women who teach tennis can ask for more in terms of compensation and packages. And, in fact, we have seen this across the board. And clubs and Directors of Tennis should think outside the box in terms of incentives and compensation to retain not only excellent female professionals, but all professionals. The era of a flat, hourly rate on court should be long gone.

Fixed employee costs to a club or facility are higher where women professionals are concerned. Women professionals cost on average 8% more than their male counterparts at the same position across our research. This cost includes not only on-court retained percentages and salary costs, but paid time off, maternity leave, and other benefits in kind, such as housing costs. Because there are so few female instructors, female professionals are able to negotiate with their employers with better leverage. This leverage results in contracts that are more beneficial to the female employee than the contracts of their male counterparts. With paternity leave becoming more prevalent, these ratios might change.

In conclusion, women instructors on the court at present are enjoying an era in which they can reap more due to the lack of female teaching pros in the industry. As the industry matures perhaps this situation will change, but as Trish Faulkner notes, she only expects 1 in 4 members of the USPTA to be women in three years.

In May, we will breakdown the five reasons having a female professional on staff is essential for any best-in-class program at any club or facility.

Please see the USTA Florida article concerning women in the teaching ranks here.

6 thoughts on “Female Pros: Women Teaching Professionals Make More Than Men

  1. Ed: Thanks for the article. I know we are making strides and it is true that some of the highest profile clubs in the industry have women directors and often women managers. By the way Joe D’aleo is not the Florida USPTA President, as I am now Vice President of the national USPTA Board. Keep up the communications. At this time it is very helpful and necessary.
    Trish Faulkner

    1. Thanks Trish for your thoughtful words and I will amend the article on here to reflect Joe’s position at the present time.

  2. When I was publishing TennisPro magazine back in the 80s, I put several female pros on the cover. I asked them which of their clients/members were more receptive to a female tennis coach and got opposite answers.

    One female teaching pro said the women were thrilled to have a female coach.
    “You understand us! You know how far you can push us and don’t patronize us and treat us like China dolls.”

    Another female coach said that once the men found out she could hit with them, she had their total respect. Her women members, on the other hand felt more like, “Who are you to teach us tennis? You’re just like us. You can’t hit as hard as a male.”

    Another interesting piece of info: as executive director of the USHSTA, I think I saw a stat (back in the 90s) that of all high school sports, tennis has the highest number of females coaching boys teams. I’ll ask the USTA high school tennis subcommittee to see if that’s still true today.

    I think one way to get more women into tennis teaching is to have both male and female coaches invite females to work over the course of a day. Let these women experience what it’s like to run a drill clinic, teach a private lesson, work with a junior academy, feed balls during a men’s clinic, run drills during a women’s team practice and work with tiny tots and seniors. Pay these one-day interns $40-$60 an hour (or the local rate) and let them experience how that feels. That will let females experience what it’s actually like to teach tennis and help them get the teaching bug, rather than hope we can explain a career in teaching verbally or in writing.

  3. Thanks Steve for your words. Please look out for an upcoming podcast with Christen Zawatsky who is a leading female instructor in New England. She almost mirrors what you are saying above with a few caveats. Again, thanks for reading and look forward to hearing from you again.

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