Edit desk: Women in the workspace


Sarah Epstein

I’ve always been hooked on sports.

Growing up in Boston, it’s not hard to say why. Boston teams have won 11 championships in my lifetime, and each one has fueled my passion a little bit more.

In second grade, while all of my friends were princesses, singers or movie characters for Halloween, I dressed as Nomar Garciaparra.

No one ever told me I couldn’t. Until they did.

Every female sports fan I know has had the same experience. Growing up, boys would question our knowledge of sports, asking absurdly hard questions they don’t even know the answer to in an effort to prove we don’t know anything about the topic.

But why? Why do men care if women know more about sports than they do? Why does it bother them to have a civilized conversation about last night’s game or who the Patriots are playing after the bye week?

Why do some men care so much about not having women in the professional sports industry that they would protest the hiring of women on Twitter?

This past June, Sports Illustrated’s Charlotte Wilder tweeted about a job opening at SI, and she especially encouraged women to apply. In response, Ed Werder, a former NFL reporter for ESPN, confronted Wilder about her lack of encouragement for men to apply to the position and accused her of sexism and discrimination.

Let me just tell you — sports journalism doesn’t have any problem hiring men. According to SB Nation’s Dayana Sarkisova, men make up 90 percent of sports media.

When Werder’s tweet hit people’s Twitter feeds, a huge portion of sports media blew up. Reporters, editors and columnists alike were all standing up for Wilder and attempting to educate someone who clearly needed to hear about what the sports media landscape was going to look like in 2018.

Women, especially, came together and encouraged one another to keep paving the way for women in the sports industry.

I think Britt McHenry, a former ESPN correspondent, said it best.

Never once did my parents say apply or tryout ‘because you’re a girl.’ They told me to apply because I’m a hard worker. At ESPN, I never wanted to write for ESPNW. I wanted to be on the same page as the men. True equality. Novel concept…”

Watching sports Twitter come together in response to Werder’s tweets was truly inspiring. So many people of all races and genders were standing up for equality — something the industry clearly lacks.

Though Werder’s tweets are reflective of a portion of today’s sports media, his opinions are clearly not widespread throughout the industry. More and more, I am seeing women’s names in places ranging from bylines to lists of some of the world’s top sports media companies.

Elena Bergeron is the editor in chief of SB Nation. Erika Nardini is the CEO of Barstool Sports. In September, Amazon Video announced its Thursday Night Football announcers — Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm.

These are certainly great strides for the industry, but that 90 percent marker is still far too high.

It’s going to be hard to break into sports media as a woman, but I’m still going to try.

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  1. Amy Charles '89 on

    It’s for the same reasons that they get bent out of shape when women are funny. Or rich. Or smart scientists. Or, or, or. There’s a list of things that a certain kind of moron believes is necessary to “getting a woman”, and if you’re good at them too, you’re competition. Also, it means you don’t need him. The thing is, naturally you don’t need him. You’re fine without any man. But a guy like that is deeply threatened — both by the fact that you don’t need him and by his sense that you’re making his game harder — and will go after you.

    My advice: make visible and audible what he’s doing. Ask him if he’d question a man like that, and when he replies in the affirmative, find him a man to question like that, and watch him slink away or become much more civil.

    I get male students who try to pull this sort of thing in the classroom, too. While I know that if I went and had the playground fight with them — which is a ridiculous thing in its own right, since I’m decades ahead of them — they’d then respect me and we’d get along fine, I don’t want the playground fights. They’re stupid, unpleasant, unnecessary. So I’ll tell the young man to see me afterwards and we go over what it is he’s trying to do in playing dominance-challenge, and whether he’d pull the same thing if the prof were a man. Usually he has no idea he was doing it; it just seemed like the natural thing to do, and he doesn’t realize he’s been trained to behave this way. Once he sees it, he’s shocked, then embarrassed and apologetic, and, again, we get on fine after that.

    Men who don’t perceive themselves to be bad guys often profess helplessness about what to do to help make things better, more equal, for women — after all, as far as they’re concerned they’re not harassing or abusing anyone, so they’re in the clear, right? These are the guys who have to start noticing and stepping in when they see other men doing this sort of thing, and make it clear that this is not socially acceptable, and that harassing women about expertise is not a joke.

    Finally, don’t stop complaining, and don’t be embarrassed to be a complainer. The world’s complainers make things change. Fight back. Rest when you need to rest, but don’t let these guys make you second-guess yourself: you’re sensing discrimination because there is discrimination. Their kids will recognize it, even if they don’t.

  2. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    “Why do some men care so much about not having women in the professional sports industry that they would protest the hiring of women on Twitter?”: I attribute this to a lack of self respect and a lack of respect for others due to a failure of parenting, the educational system and other. This can lead to the formation of bullies, some of whom can be high functioning. This is not a condition solely applicable to males.

    Amy Charles wrote: “Finally, don’t stop complaining, and don’t be embarrassed to be a complainer.” Much of what she wrote above this quote relates to situations where power would be yours or possibly equal. I would be cautious about complaining because it would seem to assume you do not have power. If a “bully” has power, complaining may have negative consequences.

    Amy writes: “The world’s complainers make things change. Fight back. Rest when you need to rest, but don’t let these guys make you second-guess yourself: you’re sensing discrimination because there is discrimination. Their kids will recognize it, even if they don’t.” This rings true if you have power, are equal or are dealing with superiors who are results oriented.

    I enjoyed your columns on the Lehigh – Lafayette football game.After reading the B&W and other Lehigh Media coverage of the team I commented in agreement with your Why Lehigh Will Win column. I think your guess at the score would have been accurate had not Lafayette been so inept at critical times. The statistics for each team were comparable.

    If you are your best critic you won’t have to worry about other’s opinions. If you are writing for jerks, boss or audience, this advice may not make you successful.

    Keep learning, improving and writing,

  3. Amy Charles '89 on

    Why does it not surprise me that a guy who wants abortion rights gone is also telling a young woman it may be in her best interest to hush about discrimination?

    • Robert F Davenport Jr on

      I wrote previously: “From a non-religious (civil) point of view I can accept safe and rare as a personal decision ( https://study.com/academy/lesson/st-gianna-beretta-molla-biography-miracles-quotes.html). I can sympathize with the plight of those women who are pregnant but do not want to continue to a birth. True, it is their decision to do so but I disagree greatly that it is a right. The right to abortion seems to me like a rationalization to the gravity of the decision to end life. That is not the only rationalization used to promote abortion rights (some of which you mention). The goal seems to be to make the decision a no-brainer for abortion.”

      I accept current reality for abortion, while arguing that it is not a right. Bringing discrimination into the open or promoting your opinions are certainly within your rights; I think current reality indicates that negative consequences may follow.

      Actions have consequences; whether the action was good or bad, it is human nature to want to avoid negative consequences. The interplay between actions and consequences is often inconsistent over time and place so one should be surprised.

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