Promoting Career Opportunities for Girls and Women in the Sports Industry: Suggestions for Existing Businesses

Article excerpt

Women in business have a significant influence on the American economy. The Department of Labor, for example, estimates that the number of employed women will increase 16.6 percent between 1994 and 2005. In comparison, during this same time period, the number of employed men is expected to increase 8.5 percent. Currently, women occupy 46 percent of the labor force. In the year 2000, this figure is expected to increase to 48 percent (Wolde, 1997). The job market for women in business is vast. Many opportunities exist in varied disciplines including, but not limited to, education, law, health care, and medicine. The sport industry represents another viable career track with an abundance of career opportunities for women; however, many obstacles still exist for women desiring to enter the sport industry. This article identifies 10 ways in which managers and employees currently working in both sport and nonsport industries can facilitate career opportunities for women and girls (figure 1).

Establish Mentor Programs

Mentoring programs are well established throughout industry. Sport businesses engaging in a mentorship program can generate great benefits for any potential sport management employee. For example, in 1997, Vision in Action established Women's Mentor/Protege Program to facilitate women's success in the fitness facility field ("Wanted," 1997). Similarly, owners or managers employed in other sport business industries, such as minor league sport, bowling alleys, and amusement parks, can serve as mentors for high school and college students. Mentoring programs using the internet and e-mail provide sport businesses an opportunity to engage in positive exchanges without a significant time commitment (Katz, 1997). As explained by Katz, Hewlett-Packard's E-mail Mentor Program, which pairs fifth-through 12th-graders with professionals, demands as little as 45 minutes per week of its participating employees. Girls and women interested in a sport industry career gain valuable insights and networking opportunities from mentorship programs. The sport business benefits from the community goodwill that is generated and gains satisfaction from seeing bright and capable girls and women become interested and educated in a sport business career of their choice.

Involvement With Professional Associations

There are a host of professional associations whose activities, programs, and projects can create links between the sport industry and women and girls interested in a sport-related career. For example, the annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, sponsored by the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport, provides opportunities for girls and women to learn about careers available in the sport industry.

Adopt and Adhere to Affirmative Action Plans and Policies

Affirmative action plans and policies have generated great debate during the last few years. However, as first introduced by President Kennedy in 1961, the term represented a dedicated effort to end discrimination (Executive Order 10925, 1961). The intent of this executive order was to encourage employers to eagerly recruit minority, employees and suppliers. The spirit of the executive order was remedial in nature. In other words, as stated by the Supreme Court, affirmative action sought to "ameliorate the effects of past discrimination on the opportunities enjoyed by members of minority groups in our society," (City of Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., 1989, p. 713). Sport business managers and employees can embrace the spirit of affirmative action regardless of philosophical beliefs associated with the more disputed "quota system." In other words, sport businesses can fulfill the spirit of affirmative action by actively seeking and recruiting female employees.

Participate in Traditionally Male-Dominated Networking Activities

Networking has always been a critical component of success in business. Unfortunately, many of the networking activities in the past have been "off-limits" for women and girls. …