sports

Serena Williams is a Bad Ass...oh and by the way she is also a woman...GASP

Excuse my language in the title of this post but is there really any other way to describe Serena Williams? 

uh, no there isn't

Recently, after winning the Wimbledon semi-finals in July, Serena Williams was interviewed at a press conference. During which gender came into the dialog, as it often does. One question asked, if she felt it was fair for women to get paid the same as men, if the matches were shorter....So you earn less for being better?

uh, what? no.

I wish I could say it ended there, it didn't. Here is the question that many have been talking about ever since. One, because it was dumb, two because, well Serena schooled the reporter in the most polite and yes bad ass way ever.

REPORTER:

"There will be talk of you going down as one of the greatest female athletes of all time. What do you think when you hear something like that?"

Serena, never one to back away from the conversation of gender in sport responded quickly as if there wasn't even a question how she should respond which makes sense when you are the best of the best.

SERENA:

"I prefer the word 'one of the greatest athletes' of all time."

uh, yeah because you are a bad ass, Serena


Then, this week another reporter was talking to 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist, Andy Murray when a reporter, John Inverdale asked the following:

REPORTER:

"You're the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That's an extraordinary feat, isn't it?"

ANDY:

"Umm," Murray said. "Well."

He was indeed the first modern tennis player to successfully defend the singles title at the Olympics, he noted.

But "I think Venus and Serena have won about four [gold medals] each,"

uh, now I kinda heart Andy Murray

I am not quite sure why it seems so hard for people in the media to give female athletes credit for their successes. It isn't just Serena who experiences this either. 

Check out this headline that was tweeted out as an example of how we treat athletes different based on their gender.

Uh, I think they are missing the boat on the real story here

Uh, I think they are missing the boat on the real story here

I realize that not everybody sees this as an issue. When I brought the subject up around some friends and co-workers (outside of the sports industry) the response was less enthusiastic. Few people said anything negative but many questioned why it matters.

It matters because it isn't just the media attention or respect that is unbalanced. It is also the pay. While you may not directly care about how much one super star athlete gets paid vs. the next, it trickles down.

It is widely known that female athletes do not get paid at the same level of their male counterparts.

In almost every single sport women earn considerably less than their male counterparts. Women are supplementing this lack of equal pay with endorsement deals which is misleading when you just compare total salaries against their male counterparts, if you take endorsements the gap in pay is much larger.

so, why do people get paid what they do? Arguments for the gap include; overall fan base, game attendance, tv endorsement deals and in general the amount of money generated by the sport. That doesn't tell the whole story though, as many female sports haven't been given the same options and support in the way of promotion etc.

So why focus on sports, when we know that on average women as a whole make somewhere on average of 72 cents to every dollar a man makes in this country?

Exposure & Transparency

Plain and simple. The women fighting for equality at these higher dollar levels brings about exposure to the overall issue of a gender bias and the gender pay gap. This is an important part of the process for change.

In less exposed industries, like a call center for example, the worker is less likely to know for sure what her counterpart make vs. herself and even if they do find out many companies attempt to say that it is illegal or against the rules to discuss salary among your peers and people fear retribution for rocking the boat. Serena isn't worried about rocking the boat. Tennis doesn't want to lose her. Say what you will but what she has done to elevate the sport of tennis in viewership, endorsement and pure love of the game, has probably generated more revenue to the actual sport than any other athlete in recent memory.

It is easier to ignore the call center operator, but you aren't ignoring Serena Williams.

How can Serena Help Us?

In a world where there is still a long way to go regarding gender and the gender pay gap there are signs of progress.,.well kind of. For starters most women in today's world make more than women have ever made in the past. We make more than our mothers and our grandmothers. Slightly misleading since many of our mothers and grandmothers didn't actually work but it still is important to note. Women account for 80% of all buying decisions in this country. Important to note for a number of reasons:

we are more educated than ever - not just in general but with regards to our finances

We have the majority stake and say in family buying decision - as the caretakers for children, and family members, we are calling the shots in every day life. 

It's time we get the respect we deserve for that and if Serena, women like her and even awesome men like Andy Murray continue to point out the discrepancies and demand better it helps us all.

Further proof of Serena's bad-assness....this little girl here...

For more information on the gender pay gap in sports, check out the infographic below:

SOURCE:  http://sportsmanagement.adelphi.edu/resources/infographics/a-look-at-male-and-female-professional-athlete-salaries/

SOURCE: http://sportsmanagement.adelphi.edu/resources/infographics/a-look-at-male-and-female-professional-athlete-salaries/

what happened this week?

This week has been an interesting one for women and sports so for today's post I am going to keep it simple and share three amazing things in the world of sports that happened this week.


Wednesday was the 43rd anniversary of Title IX. Title IX didn't just change the world of sports for women, it can be said that it was the catalyst for much more. I speak on Title IX often and the fact that it finally gave women a place to experience competition, team work and the drive to succeed in something beyond patriarchal expectations. For this reason I share with you this article from ESPN about the "9 Things we Wouldn't Have Without Title IX"


Another amazing thing that happened this week is Melissa Mayeux. Don't know her? Well she is a 16 year old from France who just made history in the United States. She has become the first woman to be added to the Major League Baseball's international registration list. This doesn't automatically mean that she will one day play in the big leagues, it is a huge step in that direction and she is only 16. Imagine what could be. 


The last thing is a little different. It is two of my favorite people for telling it like it is who got together to put someone in their place in a respectful and hilarious way. This week a sports writer by the name of Andy Benoit decided to tweet his feelings about women in sports with the following three Tweets.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Well Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler to the rescue. Amy made a visit to the set of her old friends show Late Night with Seth Meyers to revive one of their best skits from SNL, REALLY with Seth & Amy. Check it out below.

What's the point of this post? The point is to get this type of news into the lexicon. Things are happening for women in sports and that means something not just for sport but for our culture. It is the continuation of Title IX, it is the continuation of equality and equal pay movements. Anything we can do to bring that dialog to the forefront is a win. 

networking isn't for dummies.

The word "network", when used as a verb means to:

"cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally, especially in finding employment or moving to a higher position."

As soon as I read the definition, I realized why so many people struggle with this particular part of the job search. The definition is almost sleezy. It is all about what you can get from people and not about what you can offer them. I get it, climbing the corporate ladder is no easy task, it is a dog eat dog world, everyone must fend for themselves...YUK." I prefer to look at things differently. I define networking as a way to cultivate relationships among people with the intent of building EACH OTHER up. It is about learning from each other, having someone's back and sharing common passions and pursuits.

My biggest pet peeve in networking is being asked "what I do" or "where I work" as an introductory line. I am not my job and my job is not me. I am here to meet and connect with people and that is not the best opening line. Think of it this way, on a first date, do you really want someone asking you how much money you have in the bank and what kind of yield you are getting from your 401K? No, well to me these are very much the same things.


networking two.png

The easiest place to get caught in the trap is when you join a networking group or organization. 

Networking groups are a great way to meet people in a similar industry or profession as you. Most people however get overzealous when it comes to the term "networking" and "networking organizations". The job market is crowded, competition is stiff. People see this, get scared and use networking entirely wrong. They use these orgnaizations to "pad"their resume instead of truly becoming part of what they are doing. Networking is all about what you put into it and the authenticity that drives the connections you make.

If we are going to do this, then we need to ask some questions to ensure that we choose the right networking group for us...


Here it is important to look for organizations that will help to educate, inspire, lead and nurture you into whatever your next step may be. This means you have to ask yourself some hard questions. I suggest some quiet time to reflect in a place that inspires you. (it's okay if it involves some sort of dessert or wine, I am not one to judge.) As you are contemplating these question it is key that you research groups that will work with what you are going after.

what do I want to do? what and who do I want to be? where do I want to be?

Networking groups vary. Many meet only once a quarter. (How in the world are you going to network like that?) Some meet every other day. (Who has the time?) But networking is about more than sharing a cocktail and trading business cards. It is important when doing your research to find a group that meets or interacts regularly enough to develop real relationships with the people in the group. You also need to be honest about how much time you have or are willing to invest. 

80% of all jobs are secured through networking!

If 80% of all jobs are secured through some form of networking, why are you spending the lion's share of your time on job boards? When you look at the landscape of your search, how much time are you committing to true networking? When you have a job you love, how much time are you committing to networking AND helping others? Both are important because you never know what the future holds. Reciprocity is key.


Everything you do with regards to networking should have a "why" attached to it. That does NOT mean you have to GET something out of every network but it does mean you should know why you are there. Driving with no destination in mind is a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon, it is NOT however a great way to find your purpose. You need to attack it with intent. This doesn't mean you know where you will end up, but you should have a destination in mind. Don't jump the gun. Don't "pad" your resume just because it will get you A JOB. Determine what you REALLY want to do. Think it out, write it down, pray about it, meditate and really hone in on what it is you want. THEN, start your network. When you do this, you build with purpose in mind and the results become much more fruitful.

In the spirit of networking, leave a comment below with some of your favorite networking groups.  To get you started here are a few of mine.