Anyone who enters into the world of social media acknowledges that you're swimming in a sea of haters bravely hiding behind avatars ready to be mean. But if you're a woman, in a stereotypical male-dominated industry, things can get More Than Mean.
In a new four-minute PSA entitled "More Than Mean" embedded at the bottom of this article, sports reporters Sarah Spain, and Julie DiCaro sit down as men squeamishly read real comments posted online about them to their face.
"You need to be hit in the head with a hockey puck and killed."
"I hope your boyfriend beats you."
"I hope you get raped...again."
As a woman in sports business and member of the fraternal industry, sadly, I wasn't surprised. Whenever I publish pieces on equality, female sports, or wage gaps, I too, am hit with a barrage of comments--mostly suggesting my appearance should propel me to do other things, or that no one should ever agree to pay a female athlete of equivalent talent as much as a male athlete, etc. All of course, sourced from men.
We begrudgingly accept a level of misogyny as pioneers of progress, but the level of hatred and harassment portrayed in this video is horrifying.
The bigger question is, why is this so rampant in the sports industry? Just because a woman didn't play a particular sport they are speaking of (and mind you, neither did a majority of the men either), doesn't the diversity of viewpoints present an advantage?
A great example of the potentially negative consequences of one gender dominating an industry is the financial collapse of 2008. One of the most male-dominated industries, the financial sector, didn't have the advantage of a diversity of viewpoints that more women could have offered. The level of risk taking characteristic of male leaders encountered no counterbalance by the more moderate approach females tend to have.
It's certainly time that the prevalence of societal sex-stereotyping is publicly addressed. Thanks to this video, the conversation can be started in the sports world.
Last year I had the opportunity to meet Annika Sorenstam--retired professional golfer who's game rivaled the likes of most male golfers and is lauded as one of the best athletes of all-time. During this conversation, she delivered one of my all-time favorite quotes...
"If you want to play, you have to play with boys. If you want to stick around, you have to beat them."
In my eyes, this is exactly what any women entering into a male-dominated industry should relish as their mantra. To DiCaro, Spain and the 145 girls predicted to apply for scholarships being offered by the Association for Women in Sports Media this year...let's beat them!
Ok, Twittersphere, I'm ready...