Strident efforts are being made nationwide to activate the interest of young girls in the STEM topics of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Meanwhile, reports flood in from around the country of strides women are making in the marketplace and in the board rooms, as the business world continues to gain appreciation of the contributions possible from the female of the species.
One area that remains a bit behind the times is the full understanding and acceptance of women in the sports world. While baby steps continue to be made, many fans of male-dominated sports find it hard to give much thought or concern to women’s sports. Occasionally, a Women’s World Cup soccer team catches our eye, or an Olympian of note, but in general, women sports is not even in the back seat of the American sports vehicle. It is in the trunk.
But more business leaders are looking at the contributions of women through the eyes of what they accomplished in their youth, and often, those accomplishments are in the field of play.
A study by Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports shows that approximately 70 percent of children in the United States drop out of organized sports before the age of 13. However, at the same time, studies show that girls who play sports are more likely to gain a college degree and find gainful employment down the line.
Ernst and Young has supported research that shows that among senior business women in executive positions, 94 percent played sports in their lives and over half played at the university level. The takeaway? Athletic involvement for girls leads to business success for women.
EY’s research found that among hiring professionals, 75 percent said that when a female job applicant is presented, that candidate’s sports background positively influenced their decision to hire them. It is believed that a background in sports participation leads to a stronger work ethic, and the ability to work with other cohesively in pressure situations.
The National Football League, in its efforts to attract interest in their sport and league from females, hosted an NFL Women’s Summit in February and asked journalist Claire Shipman to speak. In speaking to female business, government and sports leaders, Shipman related her regard for females participating in sports activities:
“Something happens when girls play sports. They embody the experience of not just winning, but the critical experience of losing. It’s that process or carrying on and clearing hurdles that really builds confidence. It’s an incredibly useful proving ground for business and leadership.”
Assuming the Summer Olympic Games take place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil as scheduled, they provide an excellent opportunity to see women athletes at the peak of their athleticism, performing at the summit of their competitive desire. Nothing, no high school, college or professional league title, can match the fervor with which athletes perform at the Olympic Games, and it as true for women as it is for men.
Perhaps more so. Remember that when women compete in sports, they compete against other women. Few things in life can be more daunting than that.