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Breaking into the Club

By Mariah Davis; For The Clock
On April 17, 2017

Breaking into the Club 

Mariah Davis

For The Clock

mldavis4@plymouth.edu 

 

Walking into the athletic center you feel small. It’s a big building, decorated in pictures from decades ago of past accomplishments. These pictures remind you of how old both the building is, and the tradition of athletics here. The people that keep this department running are dedicated, but also surprisingly, most of the administrators are female.

Plymouth State University recently announced their new Athletic Director, Kim Bownes, who is the first female AD in the school’s history. This is a positive step for both the school, and for women in the sports industry, who are fighting for recognition in a male dominated industry.

In the 2010 census, it was reported that 50.8% of the population in America was female. Although, half of our population is female, we don’t see this represented in athletics. We see a much smaller percentage of numbers regarding women.

“There is no proof that women don’t do the job as well” said Bownes, PSU’s new AD.

The cause for the lower numbers of women, who are involved in athletics, is still debated. Older generations have a big impact, along with prejudices held by the leaders in the industry.

Pamela Childs, a professor of Sports Management at PSU, and a retired softball coach for the University of Vermont of twenty years said, “the struggle for women, is that it simply is a male dominated industry”

Predominately older, and Caucasian men own the industry. “Its sort of an old boys club. Breaking into the old boys club is hard,” said Childs. “If they are older their perspective of women’s role in society is very different than a younger generation”

Childs also explained that, employers are comfortable hiring people

they are comfortable with. “If sport is owned by wealthy white men, wouldn’t that say that we are going to have a lot of white men that get hired? They can relate to each other”

Women, and any other minorities, face a lot of adversity in athletics. It’s a world that is thought of as run by males. Trying to push this glass ceiling can be difficult. Two women at PSU have done just that, Kim Bownes the Athletic Director at PSU, and Courtney O’Clair, the Associate Athletic Director at PSU.

Both women agree that it’s important for the women in the industry to stick together.

“It’s important for women leaders to support other women,” said Bownes, who was the only woman, in a field of several men, who applied for the AD position at PSU.

This can pose its own problem, if women are not applying for these jobs, how can we expect to level the playing field? “We need more females applying for higher positions,” said O’Clair

Not only is it difficult for women to get positions at the Division III level, but also the Division I level is even harder. The statistics drop tremendously in women’s favor, when we jump to the Division I level, for athletics.

“More females need exposure at the DI level,” said O’Clair.

Big Division I schools, attain more of their money from their athletics. This money usually comes from their bigger programs. Those programs usually are, the men’s teams, which usually include, football, hockey, and basketball. Although a woman can run these games, and teams just as well, we usually see men in these positions.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a men’s sport, you’re still running a business” said Bownes.

Although the numbers for women athletic administrators in Division III are on a rise, this division isn’t the most highlighted in the media. Childs explains that in the college athletics world, “Everything is about Division I. By and large the most important division”

If this is true, then its important to not only have Division III numbers rise, but Division I’s as well. As, the statistics show, every year more and more women are getting involved in athletics.

“If you’re good at what you do, you have more opportunities, because you’re a minority” said Bownes.

Bownes, and O’Clair offered their own advice for women trying to break out of the norm in athletics. “Have confidence,” said Bownes.

“Take every opportunity you can,” said O’Clair.

As you are walking into those big doors, remember that they are not that scary. Also remember that you are not alone, there’s a huge support system for the determined women that venture into the “old boys club” It may be harder being a minority, to accomplish what you want, but if you work hard enough, you can get it. 

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