Recent headlines have said that the “N.F.L. Will Require Interviews of Women for League Executive Positions.” Comparing the decision to the Rooney Rule that mandated minority interviews for any head coach or general manager opening, the NFL might have been targeting its female viewers who number 40 to 45 percent of their audience.
Where are we going? To the NFL’s glass ceiling.
A Football Report Card
The University of Central Florida (UCF) has an institute that publishes a report card on race and gender for major league sports. With women faring rather poorly, the NFL was typical. Like the NBA and MLB, their C+ grade–a 75 percent that I would call a “C”–reflected few women in management. (We should note that for the sixth consecutive year, the NFL had an “A” for racial hiring practices which gave them a B average.)
Managers, coaches, owners and VPs were among the categories on which the grades were based. Ranging from zero to 22 percent, the relative number of females running the NFL was minuscule. I’ve copied some of Report Card’s charts below:
First the good news.
Whereas the September 10, 2015 report card noted no women among the NFL’s 803 assistant coaches, now we have one. Described by Vox as having shattered the glass ceiling, the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as the NFL’s first full time assistant coach. Ms. Smith will be the quality control coach for special teams. Previously, she had been Bills’ coach Rex Ryan’s administrative assistant.
From Bills offensive lineman, Richie Incognito:
The other numbers…
There are no female General Managers/ Directors of Player Personnel in the NFL.
General Managers/ Directors of Player Personnel
Similarly, for head coaches, the number was zero.
In the top slot, still no woman is a CEO/President of a team. However, women are either principal owners or hold a significant stake in nine of the NFL’s 32 franchises.
To find higher numbers, we need to look at vice presidents. And yet, with 67 female VPs out of 363 among 32 teams, the female presence is relatively small. (I could not discover if the White and Asian totals included women or were all male.)
Our Bottom Line: Human Capital
Reading that the NFL would interview women, I recalled what female musicians had experienced during auditions. The discrimination was considerable until the auditions became gender blind. The glass ceiling started to crack only when all musicians played their instruments behind “closed doors” that hid their identity.
So yes, when you eliminate women from your supply of human capital, you are diminishing your team’s potential talent. However, a step toward gender neutrality might need more of a tackle (sorry, could not resist) from the NFL than an interview.