Women participation in sport has been steadily increasing and shown to lead to success in life.  For example, women coaching men has become more common in pro sports recently including Becky Hammon as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Jen Welter as an intern linebacker coach with the Arizona Cardinals, Nancy Lieberman as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings, and Justine Siegal as the first female coach for an MLB team with the Oakland A’s.

“Siegal said. “And I do like talking about life skills – I like to help people achieve their life goals… Siegal believes, based on her previous tenures coaching baseball, that her gender won’t be an issue with the young A’s players…“I’ve found from experience that men are surprised to have a woman coach, but when they realize you know what you’re talking about and that you care, you fit right in with the rest of the staff,”  (Oz, 2015)

Success in sport shows to have a very significant correlation to success in business and life.  There are many reasons that sports lead to success and it can help women break through the glass ceiling.  Sports gives girls and women the confidence to succeed in competitive business and it’s been found that girls who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem than girls who don’t play sports.

“There are a slew of benefits I know my girls get by playing a team sport: learning about teamwork and how to win and lose gracefully, building confidence and pushing themselves physically and mentally. But perhaps, I can add another positive to the already solid list — helping them crack the glass ceiling… The success in sport does have a very significant correlation to success in business,” said Beth Brooke-Marciniak, global vice chair of public policy for Ernst & Young and a former college athlete herself. Playing college basketball at Purdue University in Indiana taught her how to be disciplined, focused, resilient and fiercely competitive, how to take on different roles based on a team’s needs and how to get back up after getting pushed down — all traits that are essential for success in the corporate world, said Brooke-Marciniak, who is regularly featured on Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 most powerful women… Women who played team sports also know “how to talk to the guys” because they share the same experience as many men, said Deborah Slaner Larkin, chief executive officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “So a guy who’s played football and a woman who’s played basketball, it’s the same, the same kind of practice, the same coaching, the same relying on your teammates, the same stepping it up, the same confidence … You start out on common ground… Understand the importance of sport, understand the importance of sport to your daughters for their future success and try to encourage them to get through that period of social programming where society may be pressuring them to quit playing.” (Wallace, 2015)

Title IX was created in 1972 to ensure that girls and young women have equal access to sports at schools, team sports may be the way to accelerate change for women in leadership positions. Current projections are that it may take 25 years for women to reach gender parity at the senior-vice-president level and maybe more than a 100 years in the C-suite.  However, women’s successful sport experience are helping modern women bridge the gap in business and life.


Oz, M.  (September 29, 2015).  A’s hire Justine Siegal, making her the first female coach for an MLB team.  Retrieved from the Yahoo Sports website: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/a-s-hire-justine-siegal–making-her-the-first-female-coach-for-an-mlb-team-222835376.html;_ylt=A0LEV0u77ShWJWgANAZXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEzYjM1a3ViBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDVklQNjE2XzEEc2VjA3Ny

Wallace, K.  (October 16, 2015).  Can team sports help women crack the glass ceiling? Retrieved from the website: http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/16/health/team-sports-women-glass-ceiling/index.html

Dr. Michael J. Fredrick, PhD is the Chair of Sport Studies at USSA and can be reached at mfredrick@ussa.edu.




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