Women in sports are constantly fighting for a win on the court, field or ice, but the very real fights for equality are the ones making the biggest headlines. Women’s History Month has continued to highlight how both #BossLady female athletes and #GirlBoss female executives are taking powerful steps to make all aspects of the sports world more equal.
Many female competitors used their platforms to make a statement in honor of the celebratory month for women. Tennis phenom Venus Williams partnered with Brawny for the company’s #StrengthHasNoGender campaign, while sister and equally as incredible tennis star Serena Williams recited Ruyard Kipling’s poem “If–” for International Women’s Day at the beginning of the month. U.S. Women’s National Soccer star Alex Morgan also spoke out on International Women’s Day to support protests for wage equality.
To commemorate Women’s History Month, NBC Sports and Geico released a documentary, “Tomboy,” tackling the tough questions of why some girls don’t continue to play sports throughout their lives and opening up a broader conversation about gender in sports.
Speaking of the almighty wage gap, women at all levels in the sports community have made their voices heard when it comes to equal pay for equal work. The younger Williams sister covered Glamour magazine last summer and emphasized that the sports world has “a lot of work to do” when it comes to wage discrimination. The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team filed a complaint in 2016 against the U.S. Soccer federation for unfair wages in comparison to the men’s team. The women on the team are still fighting for ways to be paid equally.
The U.S. Women’s Hockey team had a different outcome in their fight for fair pay. After threatening to boycott the IIHF Women’s World Championship in March if compensation didn’t change, USA Hockey and the women’s team agreed to a four-year deal and the formation of an oversight group to advance women’s and girls’ hockey causes.
Changes are happening in C-suites and boardrooms as well. The NFL’s Dawn Hudson and the NBA’s Pamela El are the only women in the chief marketing officer position in professional American sports. Kim Ng, SVP of baseball operations at Major League Baseball, is the highest-ranking Asian-American woman in baseball.
One woman helping to tell the stories of women in sports is Jaymee Messler, president of The Players Tribune. She co-founded the media company with former Yankees player Derek Jeter, and female athletes from Olympic gold medalist gymnast Laurie Hernandez to Olympic gold medalist track and field star Allyson Felix have shared their stories.
Putting more women in executive positions, mentoring corporate women and advocating for one another is a crucial step to more equality, a point which Hudson firmly believes.
“Women want to help women,” Hudson told Refinery29. “If we put our minds to it, we [can] change the world.”