The 2020 Super Bowl was inspirational for so many reasons.
Kansas City won for the first time in 50 years.
Latinas were on the main stages.
And, Katie Sowers was in the arena. She is the first openly gay and female coach to participate in the Super Bowl.
Katie mentioned how she didn’t want to be the best female coach. She just wanted to be the best coach. End. Of. Story.
I could rattle off plenty of unfortunate statistics about gender inequality in the workplace such as:
It will take 108 years to close the gender gap.
Only six countries give women equal legal rights as men. (USA is not in this six.)
I am not here to discuss inequality and feed frustration. I would like to hold us accountable for our future and for the messages that we are telling each other, our children, and ourselves.
Thank you, in advance, for following me along on three recent events (in addition to the Super Bowl) that inspired me to revisit this topic.
During a business luncheon last week, my husband told a man that I coach our son’s soccer team. The man said, “You must have a strong-willed wife.” My husband responded, “Yes, she is. I call her a trailblazer.”
Ah, thank you, my lovely husband, for seeing me and for recognizing that female coaches are under-represented in most sports. I love coaching very much, and I never really thought about my gender when I signed up to coach our children.
I also questioned if my husband coached our son, would this man think that he is “strong-willed?”
Also last week. . . I am at a coaches’ meeting with about 30-40 people. There are four women including me at the event. I later find out that two of the women are coaches’ wives.
At the end of the night the under-10 coordinator requested that we recruit more coaches for this age group. I stepped into that “strong will” and asked if they would please stand together so that I can take a picture of their feet. I explained that I want more women standing in this circle.
I want you to see what I am seeing. This is also what our children are seeing. Why does this volunteer sports organization look like a “boys’ club?” The men were open to me being there. I did not have to apply. They definitely need more volunteers.
One of the coaches’ wives was present in her white glittery shoes. I am glad that her feet were pictured to represent her important contribution as their team’s organizer.
It was then mentioned that 60% of the athletes who play for our local sports association are girls.
This translates to a few hundred girls seeing mostly men leading week in and week out. I am very grateful for these men, but can we just have a little balance please?
To my young girls: I very much expect that if I retake this picture when you are of coaching age that at least half of these feet are yours. However, I know that you might need to see it to be it, so you need us Moms to start changing the message.
This brings me to my last compelling event.
When I came home from said meeting, my 12-year-old daughter asked me how the meeting went. I told her that there were only two female coaches there. She looked at me with a furrowed brow and a curled-up Elvis lip. I told her that I didn’t really understand it either as I felt very welcomed amongst the (mostly male) coaches. They even asked me to join the board. I said that I want women to know that they have this opportunity. I showed her the picture of the men’s feet that I took with the intent of writing this piece. She got a big grin, and my heart smiled.
I know that she wants balance, too.
Yes, there are plenty of areas where there is imbalance due to a lack of tolerance, education, acceptance and discomfort with change. However, I do not believe that society can hold women in America back anymore. Not as a coach. Not as a CEO. Not as the head of the household.
You are a warrior, not a victim.
You will achieve in spite of challenges.
You can step into any arena, and your kids want to see you do it.
Some of you may be reading this and thinking that the last thing that you need is the added pressure of putting something else on your plate. I get it. I shift with ease into being a spectator with a cup of coffee in hand, and I am pretty adamant about not coaching if I am not the coach.
There is power in your No. For every Yes, you are giving something else a No. So please feel zero guilt if coaching is not for you.
However, there are some of you that might have thought about coaching. You might be curious to know what it would feel like to shift some of your usual duties to allow you to give coaching a Yes. For example, my 14-year-old finishes cooking dinner on practice nights. On game days, my son sticks with me, and my husband (or our village) takes my girls to their activities if there is overlap.
If the thought of coaching speaks to you, then I’m just letting you know that there is abundant space for you to explore.
You can coach your kids, coach for the Special Olympics or sign up as Team Parent to start getting involved in this arena.
Kids need to see us standing in our space, growing, learning, messing up, succeeding, winning and losing with grace and humility. I inadvertently ask my children to step out of their comfort zone every time they start a new activity. What message does it send them if I never step out of mine?
Who knows, maybe voluntarily broadening our comfort zone will empower us to start our own companies, choose a profession dominated by the opposite gender, apply for a higher position or balance out our family’s duties.
Oh, and by the way, I believe that the same holds for men’s opportunities for growth. What if we took pictures of feet in most PTA meetings? Who is standing in that circle? What message is that sending our children?