Playing Sports Can Be Great Training for Working in a Male-Dominated Profession

Oct 28

I recently met with two impressive female millennials working with me to stop gender discrimination in the workplace. The discussion turned to California, where I began my legal career, played beach doubles at Santa Cruz, and survived the 1989 San Francisco Giants/Oakland A’s World Series Earthquake. Neither of my colleagues had been born yet, much like Serena Williams at the U.S. Open!

Discussing the World Series brought back vivid memories of many great moments in sports. Both of my parents were my coaches (basketball and fastpitch softball – even though ultimately I was recruited on a volleyball scholarship). My parents actually umpired my fastpitch softball games when I was a kid.

I was a fastpitch pitcher before girls pitched that way. My father had me throw 200 pitches a day to him in our backyard. In games, he was behind the plate calling my pitches; my mother was second base ump. I had the smallest strike zone ever! Mr. Fair was not fair to me, but that just made me more determined and better. I remember in one game my dad overruled my mother’s call on a steal – chilly dinner that night!

I believe competitive athletics made being in a male-dominated profession less challenging for me. I was naturally competitive, fearless, and could easily talk smack and sports with the guys. I was actually more comfortable around male peers than females. I “fit in” professionally and socially. Too bad that didn’t stop discriminatory treatment when it came to pay, power, and promotions! Maybe I fared better than some women who left Big Law without making partner or equity partner, which meant something even if the pay was disparately lower than male counterparts.

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