When I was initially brainstorming possible ideas to address the lack of female representation in sports, I first looked to other groups for inspiration. Being a huge fan of Pantsuit Nation, I searched in the Facebook Group "sports," and here is where my idea for Wom(In) Sports was confirmed.
The post was from a 21-year old woman living in Kansas, who is a graphic designer for a junior hockey team. She discussed her love for her job and sports despite the stereotypes and discrimination she has experienced while being a woman working in sports. I do not believe a summary does it justice, so below I have included a brief excerpt from her post. Not only was her writing moving, but also the responses from other women who have worked in sports was also telling in that they faced similar experiences as well. After reading this post and the comments for it, I thought back to my own project and what I can do, and decided that the stories of women working in sports needs to be shared.
There are a lot of intricacies in each Q&A where there are both positives and negatives to being a woman working in sports. The main takeaway, however, should be that despite some challenges, a majority of these women still love what they do and love working in the sports industry. This I hope will encourage young women to enter sports.
Below is a brief excerpt from that Facebook post that inspired me:
"I love my job. I love what I do, I love my teams, I love the sport, and I hope to continue doing it for many many years to come, BUT to be a woman working in sports you have to have a thick skin. You have to realize that in every interaction you make with someone you are often having to start by merely proving to them you actually know what you're doing, no matter your title. You have to be able to stand up for yourself when men say disgusting and unwelcome things to you while also being careful not to be blackballed and labeled a bitch. You have to practice not ripping someone's head off when someone insinuates that you only joined this profession to get to be around "attractive men". You have to take it in stride when some of your tasks are given to other men because they "don't feel comfortable having a woman do it" or they "don't really trust a woman". You have to stay professional when telling someone that if they try to touch you without permission again you will be reporting them. You have to know your sports facts left and right because men WILL try to test you in hopes of catching you out and proving that you're a "fake" because you didn't know who won the Stanley cup in 1952. You have to be thick skinned because it's a hard job and sometimes I wonder if it's worth it to work somewhere where I feel like I am constantly starting three steps behind everyone else, but then I remember how much I love what I do and the amazing people I've met through it.
I keep going because there is no way that I'm letting them stop me from doing what I love. I'm good at what I do.
This year the US women's national hockey team is boycotting because of the unfair pay but ALSO because they get NO respect. They are forced to pay for their own gear, they get no publicity from USA Hockey, their achievements consistently go unrecognized, and on top of that they are barely paid a living wage let alone a wage for a full time athlete. These women are the best at what they do and they deserve respect. I'm proud of them for standing up for themselves.
Women in sports deserve respect. Someday I'm hoping that I won't have to tell girls the hard truth about working in sports, but for now I will, and I will continue to support women's sports until the day when people stop calling them whiny or needy for merely asking for support and equality. I love what I do, I love my sport, and I love my teams, but this needs to be said. Thanks for listening. #BeBoldForChange."