For the first time ever, in the the history of the NFL, we will see a female coach. Jen Welter, who was also the first woman to play in a nonkicking position on an all-male team at the Indoor Football League, will be coaching inside linebackers for the Arizona Cardinals.
The case still remains true, however, that no matter where you look, the number of females in senior roles is startling low. Females are not only underrepresented in professional sports, but in many other industries as well.
Could professional sports, though, actually become a catalyst to help shatter the glass ceiling? One thing we know with sports is that winning will mask many things–good and bad.
Many problems–even criminality–that would not be accepted with corporate employees are tolerated if the player helps the team win. On the other end, sports highlight the best in people. I believe a winning team with a woman coach would be cheered no less than if it were coached by a man.
Maybe it will take just one great hire for everything to start to change. One female that leads a team to a championship and people will take notice that they are equal. There are signs now that this may not be far away.
Take the recent comments by Bobby Marks (previously Assistant GM with the Brooklyn Nets) related to considering hiring a female for a head coach position. More specifically, he was referring to Becky Hammon. Not incidentally, she is the one female across the 1,000 plus assistant coaching jobs in professional sports. Moreover, she is the first ever fulltime assistant coach in the history of the 4 major sports.
She quickly showed she is worthy of the placement, and her 16 years of professional playing experience accelerated her coaching impact. So much so, that the San Antonio Spurs chose her to coach–yes, as Head Coach!–the team in the NBAs summer league. She did not disappoint and led the team to the title.
Another example will be noticed this Fall when Sarah Thomas runs onto the field in the NFL. She will be the first ever fulltime female referee in the NFL! She has worked hard to get there, first starting her officiating in 1996.
Or take the case of Kim Ng, who is presently SVP, Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball. She has worked in a number of senior roles previously, including as Assistant General Manager for the Dodgers. While she has been passed over for a few jobs as General Manager, she has stated that her goal is to reach that pinnacle. Someone will need to look past her gender and hire her because of her qualifications.
Finally, over 25 million Americans watched the recent women’s World Cup soccer finale, which is more than any men’s soccer game in history. This type of attention will serve to make others take notice of their skills and abilities.
This may all seem far-fetched, but sports are often ahead of the public and organizations when it comes to societal issues. It was not that long ago in 1947 that Jackie Robinson shattered the color barrier in professional sports. As crazy as it was for some back then to imagine a black person playing ball in a what was until then a white league, it is equally crazy today to imagine segregated sports.
Stay tuned tomorrow to learn about 10 things you can do to help address this need.