Photo courtsey of Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Last week my wife Andi Simon wrote a blog about a pioneering early entry in the women’s rights movement, Christine Grant, who took a leadership position during the early days of Title IX. In 1973, she became the athletic director of women’s sports at the University of Iowa, one of the first women in the country to hold this title. (In those days, there were two athletic directors: one for male athletes and one for female.)
Fast forward to today. In the January 13, 2022 edition of The New York Times, there are two stories highlighting women’s recent achievements in sports. The first one features Genevieve Beacom, a six-foot-two 17-year-old female pitcher from Australia, the first woman to play for one of Australia’s top professional (male) baseball teams. If all goes as planned, Beacom could soon be attending college in the US as a pitcher, also on a male team. Only time will tell if she has the stuff to make it past college to the minors or even the majors, but with an 84 mph fastball, she looks like someone who will be extremely competitive, no matter where she lands.
The second story focuses on Rachel Balkovec, the newly hired manager of the Class A Tampa Tarpons within the Yankee organization, making her the first woman to manage a minor league baseball team. Finally, women have begun to fill in the spaces between Kim Ng, the General Manager of the Miami Marlins, and those toiling at lower management positions in both major and minor league organizations.
Why this is important
Slowly (too slowly, many would say) the barriers for women to ascend to certain jobs have begun to fall away. For 46 years now, women have been allowed to attend previously all-male military academies. It’s been seven years since the ban on women in combat was lifted. And within the last 10 years, women have become coaches and referees in historically male-dominated sports such as basketball, baseball, football and boxing. So yes, step by step, the concept of “fair and equal” that Christine Grant fought so hard for has been moving forward.
Why this is good
I am old enough to know that until the late 1960s, women were extremely limited in their financial latitude and their spouses had to sign money-related documents, such as a credit card application. In the decades since, women (and some men) finally had enough of these discriminatory restrictions and pushed ahead regardless of the biases of the times, moving into important positions irrespective of gender. Today, we as a whole are recognizing that the elimination of barriers — gender, racial, economic, political —will make us a better, stronger society.
But are we there yet?
Of course not! That is why we, like Christine Grant and Billie Jean King and Susan B. Anthony and a whole host of others, must continue to push for gender equality. Whether we are talking about sports, professions or politics, we will be a much stronger country if we judge on ability rather than gender.
I’ve written several blogs on trailblazing women entering and succeeding in male-dominated fields. Here are three of the most popular ones:
- It’s A New Day!!! Finally, Women Have A Seat At The Table
- Women "Firsts" Shatter Stereotypes, Look Forward
- These Women Are Refusing To Let Anything Hold Them Back
Refusing to be held back or shut out, women are smashing myths
From professional sports to corporate America, women are entering fields previously closed to them and proving that they belong there. It's long overdue, but at least change is happening. In your own life, are there glass ceilings you would like to smash or barriers you'd like to break through? I recommend my wife Andi Simon’s book, Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business, which you can order here. Like the women I’ve talked about above, you can do it too!
From Observation to Innovation,