When you work in sports, you get used to being the only girl. Luckily nowadays women are getting more and more opportunities in the industry, but the separation is still vast and we have a long way to go. In several of my jobs, including my current one, I have been the only girl in my department. Here's how it feels to be a lady among the beards and testosterone.
I constantly have to prove myself. Until the people you work with see first hand that you know what you are talking about, they may overlook you when they have questions or need help. You have to speak up and show you are knowledgeable and reliable. It can be exhausting and can get offensive when your coworkers choose to go to someone else for answers. It is a boys' world and it's a constant fight to prove you deserve your spot.
People assume I'm a cheerleader. When I tell people I work in sports, they automatically assume I'm a cheerleader or that I do human resources. Though it's flattering that people think I'm pom-pom worthy, I've worked really hard to get where I am and sometimes it's insulting. I use this as the opportunity to educate. Yes I work in the sports industry. Yes I actually cover sports and i'm not there to look pretty.
I get told I'm too emotional. Emotions are usually a negative when they involve women in this industry. When I get overwhelmed and show it, I'm called 'overemotional'. When the men do the same thing they aren't criticized. It's one of the many double standards I have to put up with. I've learned to keep my emotions to a minimum. If I need to cry I do it in privacy. If I want to complain, I do so to my mom. Which leads me to my next point:
Sometimes I can't speak up. In one of my previous positions, we had a new guy start and he was overstepping his boundaries. Most of the employees, including myself, were having trouble working with him. I wanted to say something to my boss but knew I may be judged because I'm the only woman in the office. Luckily one of my coworkers spoke up but I didn't feel comfortable doing so. Until some of the double standards are squashed, you may lose your voice.
I've become one of the guys. I've learned to respond to 'dude' and that there aren't many boundaries. I'm so used to being around men all the time, sometimes I have a hard time hanging out with women. I work hard to not only show I know my stuff, but also fit in with my coworkers.
Most importantly, I'm empowered. I have women come to me regularly asking for advice. I have broken into a field most men can't get into, let alone women. I've become a voice for those who don't have one yet. I am proud of how far I've come and excited to see how far I can go. You never know, I could be the next woman general manager.