Game Changers: Women in sports business

Game Changers 2023: What is one specific change you would make related to women working in sports?

Deana Barnes

To stop using the phrase “Working Mom.” Moms are no different than the dads.

Kay Bradley

For moms, flexibility. Many organizations have come a long way, but still progress to be made. We are going to crush it, so let us do it on terms that will help us crush it not only for your organization and the industry, but at being a mom as well.

Kirsten Burgess

I love seeing women working in sports but traditionally that has been in areas like communications, marketing, sponsorship sales. I would love to see (and you are seeing more and more) women in more traditionally male roles being officials or working in player relations. We have come a long way at the PGA Tour over the last 5-10 years in this area and I could not be prouder of the strides we are making.

Dawna Callahan

In my position, I would like to see more disabled individuals and specifically disabled women working in sport. Specifically bringing the lived disability experience to leading disability sport organizations.

Keia Clarke

More women working in revenue-generating/decision-making positions, more women of color in leadership roles, more women team owners. We are making so much progress and you said one specific change, but these changes would make the world a better place.

Tonia Constable

More formal and structured mentoring programs in more organizations.

Donna Daniels

I hope one day that we are no longer identified as “women working in sports” but people who have the talent and skills necessary to do an amazing job in their respective roles. Having said that, I do understand our position as role models and our responsibility to make an impact for future generations. Little girls are watching.

Robin Eletto

When hiring, look beyond traditional networking circles, which can be heavily skewed toward men. There are many talented women in other industries who would love to work in sports.

Monica Ellingson

More broadcast time for women’s sports. Equal opportunity and equal pay start with equal representation.

Jill Ellis

We need to fundamentally change hiring practices. Instead of continuing to push women to fight for opportunities, we should instead create opportunities and provide women a path toward success that isn’t filled with so many obstacles.

Kathy Fennel

The fact that we are qualified as women working in sports. I’m honored to be recognized by SBJ as a game-changing female in sports business, but I certainly prefer to let my work and merits define me, not my gender.

Christina Francis

Create more opportunities for women in ownership roles and at the executive levels to really impact change.

Christine Franklin

I’d like more women, especially those at the beginning of their careers, to feel empowered to ask for more: more opportunity, more visibility, to be involved in building what’s next. I want them to feel like they can speak with candor. I want them to know we are listening to what they say.

Katlyn Gao

Stop calling it women’s sports. It’s just sports.

Susan Goodenow

I want to see more women in roles across sports as a whole — on both the business and performance sides — but it’s particularly great to see more women involved on the performance side of sports.  

Shana Gritsavage Ferguson

I would encourage men to join in women employee resource groups or in discussions about women advancing in sport. I have been asked to join women’s groups to discuss how to grow influence in the workplace, but I fiercely believe that men need to be in those groups as well, to listen, to contribute, and to help.

Cary Groth

Open more opportunities and demand the recruitment of more women for leadership positions with equal pay.

Julie Haddon

I’m looking forward to the day when we no longer feel it necessary to designate it as “women working in sports” because we are all just individuals who work in sports.

Melissa Harper

More women leading sports companies and the development of a network of female CEOs to share insights.

Ellen Harrigan

Make sure that all women have a voice at the table, a voice in the game.

Julie Jatlow

We’re still saying, “the first woman to …” Let’s work together to break all those barriers so that women working in sports — athletes, executives, team owners, and others — are people working in sports.

Stacy Johns

To no longer be required to have conversations about when and where women belong — if you give them a position, it holds all the same rights and opportunities, whether it is a man or a woman.

Nicole Kankam

The obvious answer … have more women in leadership … but also ensure women are getting the support in their careers early and often so that they can thrive in leadership positions.

Becky Kimbro

There’s a lot I’d like to change. One obvious major challenge continues to be representation in all facets of this industry — women simply don’t have access to the same opportunities that men do. I also think we need to be careful about how we talk about progress. An increase from zero to one might be a gain of 100%, but that’s still not the major gains we need to make for true inclusivity.

Ricki Lasky

More should pursue.

Danielle Lazor

It’s simple. Increase the amount of us.

Meg Little

Remove typecasting. Women are capable of, should be considered for and provide value to all roles within sports business.

Jen Maurillo

Women continue to break barriers and inspire generations with their strength and determination. Let’s reward them with equal pay. Let’s also recognize/promote those that advocate for and champion female colleagues.

Melinda Morris Zanoni

Women being penalized for what are considered assets in a man. If a man leaves work early to go to his kid’s soccer game, he is a great dad; but if a woman leaves early, she is a soccer mom. Being assertive, confident, and ambitious are good traits regardless of gender. We need to support diverse and inclusive businesses like ours and get rid of the stigma that you have to sacrifice quality for diversity.

Marlene Nations

Having more women in highly visible positions so that there are as many women known to the general public as there are men.

Christa Newcomb

I’d like to see us get to a point where we’re not talking about it anymore. It will be a good day when enough progress has been made that we simply talk about smart people of all backgrounds and makeup who work in sports, and the conversation is not specific to identity.

Elyse Noonan

I would remove people’s surprise when they see women in these roles.

Caroline O’Connor

I look forward to it being less unique and become the norm. I hope many women will join us!

Jennifer Pogorelec O’Sullivan

Seeing more women in leadership roles in the front office, in boardrooms, at federations and beyond, helping to shape policies that support women and families.

Sam Rapoport

I have a long list but to start — more Black women in senior leadership roles.

Jacqueline Ryan

We need to continue being a voice and advocate for women in sport, developing leaders and creating positive momentum from within. Look for opportunities to break down barriers and increase access for women early in their career. This foundational support will provide dividends long into the future. It is also fundamentally important for men to be an ally in this regard. Men are often in positions of power in sport. We all have a role to play for the future of women in sport.   

Heather Sautter

I would love it if every sports organization regardless of sport had a woman at the decision-making table. Diversity of thought is such a gift to any business, but specifically sports.

Julie Sbuttoni

That they are not looked at as women in sports and just base it on performance.

Amy Siegel

More focus on retaining top female talent with concrete plans for development, promotion and continuous support.

Julie Simmons

Seek more visibility. How do other women know what they can be without great models? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

Maria Soares

Stop highlighting all the “firsts.” Stop highlighting the control room full of women. Stop highlighting the places women are finally in. Let it be organically noticed. Many times, these “firsts” are fabricated and staged. They actually hurt the credibility of what we are looking to accomplish.

Regina Sullivan

Getting to the place where the conversation is about acknowledging a person’s accomplishment made in sports rather than an accomplishment made by a woman in sports.

Julie Uhrman

We need to continue to champion women, highlight them and tell their stories. We need to drive to true equity in the C-suite and lead.

Jamila Wideman

Crowding the room, continuing the evolution from getting a seat at the table to creating a culture where folks can actually be heard.

Marti Wronski

Our male counterparts in the industry, especially those who have been in it for a long time, have extremely valuable professional and social networks and are members of organizations that, largely for benign reasons, are predominantly male. I don’t think our male colleagues fully appreciate how hard it can be for a woman executive to break into those networks, whether at the water cooler or in the boardroom. I would like our male colleagues to be more proactive in and committed to affirmatively making women a part of those informal but critically important networks. That would have a tremendous impact on the inclusion, visibility, and mobility of women executives in our industry.

Julie Yoo

Make sure you have an inclusive hiring process and rules set for recruiting to make sure we have a healthy pipeline of women entering sports. For example, at least one woman included on the interview panel and at least one female candidate to be considered for any given roles.

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