“Something has happened in the mindset where gender by itself is no longer a singular factor that can be used to dismiss candidates.”

January 05, 20162 minute read

— Ellen Staurowsky, a professor at Drexel University, in an article by Elliot Almond in The San Jose Mercury News. The article highlights advances by women in the field of college and professional sports and concludes, “Pro and college sports are no longer an exclusive boys’ club – women are making historic advances at nearly every level.”

One of the other women interviewed for the article is Nancy Lieberman, assistant coach for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings since the beginning of the current season. She is quoted as saying “We’re not asking men to give up all their toys. We’re just asking if we can play with some of the toys, too.”

Lieberman is actually the second woman to hold an NBA assistant coach position; in 2014, Becky Hammon was hired as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. She added to her credentials by leading the Spurs to the NBA Summer League title in 2015.

Other women who have advanced in recent years are Sarah Thomas, who became the first female fulltime NFL referee in April 2015, and Justine Siegel, who made major league baseball coaching history when she worked as guest instructor for the Oakland Athletics in that team’s fall instructional league. As part of her lobbying to get that job, she reminded A’s management that “This is the moment to be part of history.”

Typically these high-profile accomplishments for women come as a result of a string of “firsts” at lower levels.

Stanford University basketball star Lili Thompson also was quoted in the article, saying, “Women have had the ability to be in leadership positions since the beginning of time. It is the opposite side that is changing to acknowledge that.”