Monday, May 09, 2011

Women as sport executives

From the Globe and Mail, an article that touches on why there are not many women in executive positions in sports. It begins with the story of and commentary from current Women's Tennis Association CEO Stacey Allaster but goes on to mention Canadian hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser who aspires to a position in an NHL franchise front office but recognizes the impediments her gender presents in achieving that goal.
That there are so few women in leadership positions in sports is not shocking, of course. There were, though, two surprising moments for me in this article. Wickenheiser said she doesn't believe that if women gain more ground in the area of sport management that they will make "sweeping changes." The example she gives: women won't take the fighting out of hockey.
Is this a real fear? That women who gain positions of power in sport are going to de-masculinize them? I see that as an excuse. I think it's more simple than that. Sports continue to be a man's world; men want control of it. There is a general belief that women are just not as capable of understanding sports as men are. I think the demasculinization theory is just a scare tactic. Guys who grow up dreaming of being in sports--as athletes, and then as executives when the athlete career doesn't work out (or after it is over)--don't seem all too eager to let girls into their clubhouses.
Second, when asked why there are not as many women in executive positions, Richard Peddie of Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment made it really simple: babies. Women make "a life decision." Apparently men don't make life decisions. Because having a career, having a family, choosing where to live--I guess those aren't life decisions that men make. Ah, the privilege of getting to do whatever you want without having to make those pesky life decisions.

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