The Spokesman-Review : interns

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stef: AWSM Day 3

Originally written, Sunday, May 20, 2007

Growing up, when I told my mother that I wanted to write sports for a living one day, she looked at me skeptically and said that's great honey, but you're going to be working in a man's world.

On some level I've always known that. But in my career thus far, I've been fortunate enough to have worked with men who've been nothing supportive of me, regardless of my gender.

So it was definitely an eye-opener to hear the stories told by some of the pioneering women in the field whom I met over the course of this weekend.

When Margaret Koy Kistler first started writing sports for a Texas daily newspaper in the 1940s, she had to wait on the verdict of a local school board meeting that would decide whether or not she would be allowed into the locker room of the local high school team.

Other women talked about taking flak from players, who spoke disrespectfully to them because of their gender, and still others talked about their struggle to prove themselves in a male-dominated field, and how disheartening it was to never see another woman's byline in the sports section of the paper.

This weekend made me count my blessings. It made me realize that I owe the ease through which I am advancing in my chosen field to so many women who've paved the way for me. To borrow a cycling metaphor, I'm riding on the back wheel of these women who've been pulling for my generation for so many years.

Listening to their stories inspired me and made me grateful for everything they've done to advance women in this business. It serves as motivation because now the way I see it, regardless of the challenges to come in my career, nothing is really insurmountable, and I'm not going to face anything that other women haven't faced and overcome before. I can walk right into a locker room or press box without having to worry about petitioning to the school board. And I owe it all to my predecessors.

So it was an amazing experience to meet people like Christine Brennan — whose columns I've read and enjoyed for years — Margaret Koy Kistler, Jody Conradt, Kristin Huckshorn and Julie Ward, and to realize that obstacles aside, they found a way to succeed in this business.


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