Steeped in testosterone mythology as thick as the smell of sweat in a post-game locker room, professional sports has been decidedly unwelcoming to women. But last week a 51-year-old woman broke an important barrier. Kim Ng became the first female general manager in baseball, and also the first female general manager in any major sport.
Ng, who has spent 30 years in baseball management, will take over the front office of the Florida Marlins. “This challenge is one I don’t take lightly,” Ms. Ng said in a statement released by the team. “When I got into this business, it seemed unlikely a woman would lead a major league team, but I am dogged in the pursuit of my goals.”
Starting out as an intern at the Chicago White Sox, Ng moved on to positions at the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Major League Baseball operations.
“The move, to many in baseball, was considered long overdue and comes at a time when several other women are moving up the ranks of the sport after years of resistance,” wrote the New York Times, “and as women begin to populate the benches and boardrooms of professional football and basketball teams.”
Kim Ng Leads the Way
“Kim’s appointment makes history in all of professional sports,” Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, “and sets a significant example for the millions of women and girls who love baseball and softball.”
Indeed, women have slowly been making headway in men’s professional sports. According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, women hold 40 percent of the professional positions at Major League Baseball’s central office, and 21 women had on-field coaching or player development roles for organizations entering 2020.
The NFL has a number of female coaches and one female referee. Last February, Katie Sowers, an offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers, became the first female coach on the sidelines at the Super Bowl.
In the NBA, 14 women have held coaching jobs, starting with Nancy Lieberman who became the first woman to coach a professional men’s basketball team in 2009.
Now, how long do you think it will be before women show up on the playing field in any of these sports?