This week the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders shared their third installment of the DCCdefined series. The question that was posed to the women this week was how they would respond to those that stereotype them as “just a cheerleader”. The Five Points Blue contributors answered that same question this week but from a different angle.
Here are the their responses to: How do you combat the stereotypes of being a woman working in sports?
Many people have no idea what all is part of a sports club outside of the sport and its players, in this case football. They don’t realize there is a community relations team, a host of media and social media people, people that put together all the interviews and videos they watch, people that sell tickets, feed the players, create the merchandise they wear to games and the list goes on and on. To break the stereotype, I share, we share. I talk about the “behind the scenes of football” and who makes it happen and you see people’s ears perk up. I love 5pointsblue.com because we get to highlight women and success in sports. We get to show people that we are not asking for autographs and hanging out at games, we are a part of a bigger picture that gives an organization its name, in this case, the Dallas Cowboys.
First, demonstrate that you have a passion for what you do. You not only have to love what you do, but embrace the fact that you’re here to make a positive impact/to make a difference, because if you do then it will result in meaningful changes for the people around you and the business/environment you operate in.
You need to operate with a healthy dose of confidence without coming across as arrogance. Confident that you understand business/sports, demonstrate that you can clearly add value, tackle tough topics along the way, and embrace the challenges that will come your way and find ways to take people with you (follow your vision).
How you carry yourself is important. I truly believe that perceptions/stereotypes should not define who you are. You define who you are re: your actions/values/beliefs i.e. making a difference & doing it the right way, and how you chose to respond when confronted by these perceptions/stereotypes.
Have a good role model you can lean on, that can be a mentor, and/or have a really solid network of positive women to share experiences and learning’s with.
We should be very proactive about inspiring & equipping our younger generations to follow their passion, to take risks, be confident in themselves not only in & what they do, but how they do it, and how they feel about themselves while doing it.
Most importantly, keep your faith, demonstrate resilience & perseverance, have happiness in your heart, and fill your life with laughter….. In not only who you are but also what you do.
I don’t think there’s ever a right way or a perfect way to combat stereotypes, but I do my best to be as educated and understanding as possible. For anyone, I think that education is power. That sounds so cliché, but the more you know, the better you can take on anything that life throws your way. Be it a radio segment, an article, or even just a casual conversation with a client in the suite. The better informed you are, the better off you’ll be.
And to that point, if you don’t know something, own it! It’s ok to not know everything! You are human. It doesn’t make you stupid. And it surely doesn’t have anything to do with the fact you’re a girl.
And if you face stereotypes, try to be understanding. Honestly, it’s disarming for people and you never know where they came from, what their experiences have been and why they feel the way they do. 99.9% of the time it literally has nothing to do with you. So try it on for size, and if it doesn’t fit? DON’T WEAR IT.
I try to focus on the business aspects of my job rather than the glamour that is associated with working for an NFL team. At the end of the day it’s not about how much I know about football… it’s about if I am fulfilling my role, exceeding expectations of my job duties, and making my bosses’ lives easier.
Combatting stereotypes has more to do with self-confidence than anything. If you are confident that you are doing your best work, challenging yourself to grow, and learning from new experiences, you have already combatted whatever stereotype others may try to place on you. As you improve and become more successful, those who ever stereotyped you will ultimately feel silly.
It’s easy to be wrapped up in stereotypes, and what others may assume. But ‘combatting’ stereotypes simply requires looking inward and truthfully evaluating myself. Am I growing? Am I constantly learning? Am I honest and respectful to everyone I work with? If I’m working toward these things daily, I’m too busy getting better to be worried about a stereotype.
I combat the stereotype of sideline reporters by researching my subject, learning facts/stories that others don’t know (thanks to my direct access to Cowboys players/coaches/staff), and bringing something to the table (knowledge/facts/background) that others don’t have. Bottom line: you have to outwork everyone else. You have to ask questions. And the trick is not just having access to ask the questions, but knowing the right questions to ask. It comes from long-term relationships with your subjects (coaches, players, team doctors, ownership, staff, etc.) and my broadcast partners. Do the extra work, take the extra time, and build the relationships. That’s how you earn trust. It takes a long time, believe me. But once you earn trust, you get stuff other reporters don’t get. Also, it’s not just fact gathering; it’s putting those facts into context and making it part of the bigger picture. As Coach Garrett likes to say, “it’s a process”. Tedious at times, for sure, but definitely worth the effort if you want to be respected and trusted.