Strictly based off the title, I must warn you this piece may be a bit misleading. If you are expecting me to throw a mountain of data your way demonstrating how women who played sports, captained a team or won a national championship make better employees than those who did not, that would be far too predictable.
Since I am not wildly unoriginal, and many employers are already aware of the value that previous experience with organized sports and teamwork brings to the office, I'm only here to tell you what research might not show you.
This will be big so pay attention.
As I was sorting through the sea of articles attached to the most recent NCAA basketball bribery scandal at Louisville, my first thought was that these assistant coaches knew exactly what they were doing. My second thought was that the head coaches responsible were perfect examples of what is wrong with men's revenue sports in the NCAA.
I then thought of the victims in all of this - the male student-athletes. They may never know what path they could have taken if every adult on their journey, including their coaches and sponsors, had not assisted in these terrible choices.
In all this ugliness and scandal dealing with men's athletics, my mind turned to the fact that there is an entire population of female athletes participating and excelling in college sports that will never have those choices to make because our society places a higher value on male athlete participation.
I was a D-I dual-sport athlete in college.
Back then, I highly doubt my coaches were even attempting to record the number of hours I spent doing two strength and conditioning sessions and attending two practices a day. Those were my choices and I was proud of them, but something was always missing.
Each day my teammates and I were reminded of our second-class citizenship as female athletes on campus. You could feel and see it with something as simple as walking down the halls of our athletic center.
Walls adorned with male athletic accomplishments where the football and basketball teams were king (despite not being overly successful). I saw no one who looked like me in any of the showcases.
These experiences, however negative, have led me to a place of resolution and it's inspired me question the system while others are silent.
Given my experience of working with female athletes every day - and my qualifications - I can absolutely share with you that hiring from the female athlete population is like striking gold. Female athletes who played a sport and studied their entire first 18 years of life to earn a scholarship of any kind at any level are true gems. They are seldom rewarded or see the benefit of their fight with anything more than a "you're lucky football/basketball makes money or you wouldn't be here" attitude. As an employer, you do and will need us in the workforce now more than ever. Here's why:
1. We know how to stretch our resources because we watched our coaches do it and learned tougher lessons than our male counterparts
Our coaches, in a sense, were a lot like our bosses. Their jobs were to be accountable for us and they did so while doing their best with what they had. We are used to having smaller, less-equipped facilities and locker rooms. We are accustomed to having to fight for fair field time slots with our male sport counterparts, new uniforms, appropriate budget and speaking out against weak or non-existent media coverage. We have had years of practice with conflict resolution as we have confronted those who walked directly through our training sessions on our fields, tracks, pools and courts, all while we were reminded daily that we were only granted space when the men weren't utilizing it.
We are the athletes who had to wait weeks for imaging of our ACL tears or long-term injuries while the star quarterback or guard was ushered into surgery the day after his injury to see him return to play as soon as possible.
We are the athletes handed over each year to first-year student athletic trainers to oversee our well-being while we watch the professional full-time medical staff and doctors flock to tend to male overuse injuries in football and basketball.
We have endured and we make more out of less. Even one step in our direction that shows that you, as an employer, will do everything you can to rebalance out those scales, will earn you our unwavering commitment and endless productivity.
2. Female athletes have had years of practice learning to survive where it has been made clear that if you shoot hoops or throw a pigskin you will get first pick on everything.
We have heard and seen it all in the "wait your turn" area. This means we will stand up to those in the board rooms who will attempt to stifle our ideas or suggestions. This demonstrates that we have had more than our fair share of dress rehearsals in taking inventory on who gets what and as future bosses or CEOs we will not just reserve our care and energy for only those at the top, but will tend to the company as a whole.
3. We've watched and listened as our educational institutions have covered up or ignored sexual assault and rape of our teammates and friends
You should hire us because we are fighters and survivors who many times have been made zero promises that we will be believed if we choose to share our stories. The story of our challenges only makes us more dynamic and determined both professionally and personally.
4. We are the population that is grossly overlooked, so if you have our back, we will have yours.
As female college athletes, we operate and represent institutions all over the country - at all competitive levels - who are egregiously out of line in their responsibility to the law of equality, also known as Title IX. We defend our team missions in the same way we will defend your company, if you are fair and reasonable. When the public criticizes the business of college sports as a negative entity, it's often forgotten that the sins of basketball and football are not ours. When the NCAA is criticized for the wrongdoings in men's tier 1 sports, we stand tall despite our disagreement with being lumped into the same category of "all college sports".
You must remember the other 83% of college athletes are not men's football or basketball players.
5. We have listened to the same cliché responses about how much better and worthy men's athletics always has been and will be. We are simply not buying it anymore.
We are not easily fooled. Because we refuse to give in to the misnomers in athletics we are more likely not to accept bogus research or poorly prepared board room presentations with false data. By the time we get to you, we know the game and we know it well. We have not cut corners, asked to be bailed out or expected special treatment.
6. Nothing has been handed to female college athletes and we are successful in spite of it.
No one created our class schedules or had to call/text us daily to check in and see if we were attending class. Athletic assigned tutors did not write our essays for us, take our tests, negotiate our grades or simply allow bad behavior to go unpunished or covered up just because of "the big game".
Our recruitment and selection processes included hours of essay writing, meeting application deadlines, calls and email exchanges in order for us to sell our potential to an institution.
Our coaches followed the rules and conducted official visits miraculously without the coercion of campus escorts, strippers, drugs, alcohol, post collegiate sponsorship contracts promises, or cash under the table. Relentless recruiters did not show up at our houses or our post games with promises of lavish, worry-free, fun-filled 4 years of college and a full ride.
Despite most of us being taken on university tours where it was painfully obvious that the comparison of athletic facilities and resources were so egregiously unbalanced, we committed to our schools because we want to pursue and study a subject we were passionate about.
We are your examples of what it means to choose an institution to get a degree and therefore will be the employee who elects to dedicate themselves to the cause or company not because we were told to, but because we choose to. As a future employer, just imagine what these women can accomplish when they are valued and feel supported in the workplace in a way that college athletics never could.
A NOTE FROM THE FEARLESS COACH:
As we connect on Linkedin or other areas on social network I am always looking for new voices in athletics who are interested in sharing their stories of discrimination, sexism, retaliation and unequal treatment. If you have a story you would like to share on the struggles of your athletes and inequity, please contact me. www.thefearlesscoach.org
Did you enjoy this article? Please hit like, comment or tweet @TFCoachCarlson with #BeFearless