Meet the former pitcher, 94, trying to make a women’s baseball museum a reality
An elderly woman with a cane in hand prepares to through a baseball with a stern face.

By Drew Weisholtz

A new Major League Baseball season kicks off Thursday and hope springs eternal for all 30 teams vying to win the World Series, not to mention a group of women with a different goal in mind.

Maybelle Blair, 94, who pitched for the Peoria Redwings in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s, has teamed up with historian and author Kat Williams to raise funds in order to build the International Women’s Baseball Center, a museum that would honor women in the sport.
“Women have been part of this game for since its inception, and we don’t have that home,” Williams told Dylan Dreyer on the 3rd hour of TODAY.


The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cooperstown, New York, has been in existence since the 1930s, and Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum pays homage to Black athletes who played the sport while Major League Baseball was segregated. There’s even a National College Baseball Hall of Fame, based in Lubbock, Texas. But there is no entity solely for women.

“It is so important to me that I’m going to, if I can stay on this side of the grass, you know. … We got to get this done. I think it’s so important for girls and women and underprivileged children,” Blair said.
Blair was a pitcher who is the embodiment of the living, breathing history of women in the game and isn’t afraid to boast about it, either.

“Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax had nothing on me. And I loved every cockeyed minute of it,” she said.

She said men are hardly the only ones who have played a role in baseball lore.

“There is so much history in women’s baseball, people don’t even know it,” she said.

Women have made strides in the national pastime in recent years and enjoyed a breakthrough moment last year when the Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as the first female general manager in the major leagues.

“Listen, Kim Ng is probably the most wonderful thing that happened to women’s baseball. This woman is so talented. So outstanding,” Blair said.

Read the full article at TODAY.

U.S. Women’s Team Clears Hurdle to Reviving Equal Pay Fight
Megan Rapinoe at the U.S. versus Sweden match with teammates on the field

By Andrew Das, New York Times

A federal judge on Monday approved a partial settlement in the long-running dispute over equal pay between U.S. Soccer and its World Cup-winning women’s national team, but the players’ fight with the federation is far from over.

The ruling by Judge R. Gary Klausner, of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, rubber-stamped an agreement on working conditions that the sides had reached last year. When he rejected the players’ core arguments about equal pay last May, Klausner let them continue their claims about unequal working conditions in areas like team flights, hotels, venue selection and staffing support.

Before they could pursue an appeal of their equal pay defeat, the players needed to resolve those issues. With that agreement now in place, the players said, they will return to the core of their legal fight: an appeal of Klausner’s ruling that dismissed their demands for pay equal to what the men’s team earns.

“Now that this is behind us, we intend to appeal the court’s equal pay decision, which does not account for the fact that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job,” said the players’ spokeswoman, Molly Levinson.

The women’s players sued U.S. Soccer in March 2019, contending they had been subjected to years of unequal treatment and compensation. Twenty-eight members of the team filed the initial lawsuit, which later grew to include anyone in a larger class of players who had been part of the women’s team since 2015.

The players pressed their equal pay argument for years — through on-field protests, interviews and social media campaigns — as they piled up victories and two World Cup championships on the field. Then Klausner rejected them in a single devastating paragraph last May.

In that decision, Klausner ruled that not only had U.S. Soccer not paid the women’s players less than their men’s counterparts, but also that he had been convinced that “the WNT has been paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the MNT” over the years covered in the case.

It is unclear how long an appeal of his decision could take, or even whether it will be decided in a courtroom or at the negotiating table.

Click here to read the full article on the New York Times.

The biggest weapon in the fight for gender equity in sports
Image of the lower half of a Woman who is preparing for jogging

By Henry Bushnell, Yahoo! Sports

On March 18, an oft-injured Oregon center walked toward a basketball court in downtown San Antonio. Very few casual sports fans knew Sedona Prince’s name at the time. Prince, though, knew something wasn’t right.

She’d heard about the sprawling weight rooms that men’s college basketball teams were using in Indianapolis.

She looked to the side of her practice court and saw a solitary rack of light dumbbells, and a couple of folding tables, and … emptiness.

Two weeks later, the most powerful people in college athletics are still talking about what Prince saw — and about other, broader, deeper inequities between women’s and men’s sports. Fans are still talking. The media are still talking. Disparities between NCAA basketball tournaments sparked a national reckoning with institutional sexism in sports — a reckoning more forceful, sustained, and widespread than ever before, according to longtime sportswomen.

But not because these disparities were particularly egregious. Inequities, both specific and systemic, have always existed.

“We have been fighting this battle for years,” Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw wrote.

“This has been happening forever,” says Nancy Lieberman, one of women’s college basketball’s first superstars in the 1970s.

So what’s changed? Why the reckoning now?

“It just came to a head because Sedona had a camera. And she used it,” Lieberman says.

“The thing that has changed it,” McGraw says, “is social media.”

Why gender inequity in college hoops has persisted
McGraw still remembers the “very obvious differences,” the “stark contrasts” between men’s and women’s basketball accommodations when she first picked up the game. She saw them firsthand in the 1970s and 80s, as a player at St. Joseph’s University, then as a coach at Lehigh and Notre Dame.

“But we did not really care,” she says of the early days. “We were so happy to be playing. … I never even considered, ‘Oh wait, the men are flying and we’re taking a bus?’ ”

History is drowning in examples. Of motels instead of Marriotts. Of self-paid trips and roadside meals. Of undesirable practice times and ragged uniforms.

As the 80s became the 90s and then the 21st century, more and more women did care and did push for better treatment. They struggled, though, to find allies who’d listen — in part because the men in charge had nobody forcing them to listen.

At the time, players and coaches had no social media, and often no mainstream media covering their teams. They had no access to the public, so they operated in private. They asked for meetings with athletic directors and university administrators. “It was more backroom conversations,” McGraw says. Coaches would vent about disparities and unequal resources. More often than not, McGraw says, the response was some version of: “You know what, be happy with [what you have], because you’re lucky you have a job.”

And those responses instilled fear in some advocates. “In the past,” Lieberman says, “we the athlete, we the employee, have always felt like there’ll be retribution against us.”

Some lawsuits brought gender discrimination to the public eye. But most women who spoke up weren’t heard. More recently, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a lawyer and activist who heads Champion Women, sent dozens of letters and legal memos to college administrators. The memos highlighted discrimination with respect to Title IX. Most administrators, she says, simply didn’t respond. Others would say they were compliant, but wouldn’t offer proof.

The project, Hogshead-Makar says, “failed miserably,” just like other battles for gender equity in sports, because power brokers felt little external pressure to heed demands.

Until, that is, advocates could take their demands straight to the public.

How social media changed the game
Sometime in 2019, Sabrina Ionescu realized that Nike wasn’t selling Oregon women’s basketball jerseys — a prime example of the systemic inequities that suppress the popularity and profitability of women’s sports. Ten years ago, she’d have had to make phone call after phone call just to find somebody at the sportswear company who’d listen.

Two years ago, she simply sent a tweet.

Within days, the jerseys materialized.

Months later, Ionescu and hundreds of fans called out ESPN’s decision to broadcast the WNBA draft on ESPN2. Within hours of their tweets, ESPN reversed course and moved the broadcast to its main channel.

For decades, unequal media coverage stifled female voices. Research suggests that only 4% of all sports coverage centers on women. In the past, even when advocates tried to raise awareness about discrimination, the media’s interest, Hogshead-Makar says, was often “zero. It was a gigantic shoulder-shrug.” Executives and administrators, therefore, could shrug along.

But modern athletes no longer rely on traditional media. Social media has allowed them to build their own audiences, less inhibited by the 4% problem. Eight of the 10 most-followed college basketball players in this year’s Elite Eights were women. They now speak directly to audiences that can amplify their messages.

“Everybody has a platform,” McGraw says.

“Before things would go on, you wouldn’t even know about it,” she continues.

Now, the world knows. And it doesn’t just hear about inequities. It sees them.

‘It’s a movement of transparency and truth’
In interviews, multiple sources compared social media’s impact on women’s sports advocacy to its impact on the movement for Black lives.

“If there were no phones on cameras, do you think there would be the uproar that there is with the murder of George Floyd?” Lieberman asks. “No.”

“If there were no phones with cameras, do you think we would have seen what happened in the weight room in San Antonio?” she continues. “No.”

Omar Wasow, a professor at Princeton University, has studied this subject extensively. “Part of what social media does is allow us to see a reality that has been entirely visible to some people and invisible to others,” he told the New York Times last year. “As those injustices become visible, meaningful change follows.”

And the pattern, he says now, “definitely” applies beyond racial justice.

“The way women’s college basketball players used social media to reveal a particular injustice echo the work of many activists over decades who have strategically used media to elevate their concerns in the general public,” Wasow says.

“In the past, activists like civil rights leaders often required traditional media like newspaper reporters and television crews to garner coverage for their cause. Now, one person with a smartphone can shine a spotlight on something unjust and — if the image or video sparks concern on social media — directly amplify an issue to a global audience.”

That’s exactly what WNBA players did last summer from their bubble in Bradenton, Florida. It’s what Prince, Stanford performance coach Ali Kershner and others did from their NCAA tournament bubble in San Antonio. More than 10 million people watched Prince’s video on TikTok — where she now has 1.5 million followers. More than 210,000 people retweeted it.

“Social media is powerful,” Prince wrote two days later after the NCAA scrambled to build weight rooms and rectify its neglect.

Inequities that always existed are now exposable in 2021. A younger, more progressive generation is willing to expose them and capable of doing it. “What Sedona did took courage, took guts,” Lieberman says. “But in this last year … I believe that she’s realized that her voice carries power. Her TikTok carries power.” Ditto for hundreds of women athletes across the country.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Sports.

Jazz Jennings recalls being ‘devastated’ by transgender soccer ban at age 8
Jazz Jennings smiling while wearing a hot pink tank top dress

By Elise Solé, Yahoo Life

Jazz Jennings was banned from playing girls’ soccer as a child, and she doesn’t want other transgender children to suffer the same fate.

“When I was 8 years old, I was banned from my playing girls’ soccer for over two years. The ban made me feel excluded, had no merit and negatively affected me and my family,” the 20-year-old activist captioned a post on Instagram Monday. “Today, many states, including Florida, are trying to take away sports from many transgender youth. Go to the link in my bio to take action and combat these bills before they pass.”

The post showed emotional footage of Jennings’s parents, Greg and Jeanette, reacting to the ban by Florida league officials, who argued that their daughter’s biological sex gave her an unfair advantage in the sport, a common argument that’s been challenged by medical researchers. A 2017 review of eight research articles and 31 athletic policies published in the journal Sports Medicine found the majority were written without evidence-based guidance and that “there is no direct or consistent research” to suggest that transgender females have an athletic advantage “at any stage of their transition.”
Jazz Jennings was banned from playing girls’ soccer as a child, and she doesn’t want other transgender children to suffer the same fate.

“When I was 8 years old, I was banned from my playing girls’ soccer for over two years. The ban made me feel excluded, had no merit and negatively affected me and my family,” the 20-year-old activist captioned a post on Instagram Monday. “Today, many states, including Florida, are trying to take away sports from many transgender youth. Go to the link in my bio to take action and combat these bills before they pass.”

The post showed emotional footage of Jennings’s parents, Greg and Jeanette, reacting to the ban by Florida league officials, who argued that their daughter’s biological sex gave her an unfair advantage in the sport, a common argument that’s been challenged by medical researchers. A 2017 review of eight research articles and 31 athletic policies published in the journal Sports Medicine found the majority were written without evidence-based guidance and that “there is no direct or consistent research” to suggest that transgender females have an athletic advantage “at any stage of their transition.”

At age 5, Jennings openly identified as a girl, with the support of her parents, who felt their daughter had gender dysphoria — “the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics,” per the Mayo Clinic.

“It was horrible. I was told I could compete in games with the boys’ team, or practice with the girls and sit on the bench for the girls’ games,” Jennings told the online newspaper MinnPost in 2014. “These were very difficult times. I tried playing with the boys, but it was a disaster. It made me feel depressed, and I couldn’t enjoy the game I love. I didn’t want to quit soccer, so for the next year, I decided to practice with the girls and face the injustice of being forced to sit out the games. I felt like I was being bullied. It was terrible and painful.”

Backed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Jennings and her family challenged the soccer ban and, three years later, the U.S. Soccer Federation created policies inclusive of transgender players.

Shannon Minter, the legal director of the NCLR, tells Yahoo Life that he helped Jennings and her family draft letters to the federation, which did not have anti-transgender policies at the time but subsequently adopted those that banned discrimination based on gender identity. “It took a long time, but it was definitely because of Jazz,” he says. “I give her parents credit as they stood by her and without many resources available for them at the time.”

The federation was “very happy” to work with Jennings to put the policy together, a spokesperson tells Yahoo Life.

Jennings’s win was just a small portion of a larger and ongoing battle — according to the Human Rights Campaign, 22 bills in 17 different states, including Montana, South Dakota and Kansas, call for the restriction of transgender youth from playing on athletic teams. In fact, the LGBTQ advocacy group noted 82 anti-transgender bills have been introduced in 2021 state legislative sessions as of March 13, “surpassing the 2020 total of 79 and marking the highest number of anti-transgender bills in history.”

For example, this week alone, three states passed anti-transgender athletic policies. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that states “a student’s gender for purposes of participation in a public middle school or high school interscholastic athletic activity or event be determined by the student’s sex at the time of the student’s birth, as indicated on the student’s original birth certificate.” Lee explained in a tweet that it will “preserve women’s athletics and ensure fair competition.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson defended a similar state law, telling ABC News, “This law simply says that female athletes should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition. … This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.” Meanwhile, the “Mississippi Fairness Act,” tweeted Gov. Tate Reeves, will “protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities.”

However, this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, when asked about state legislation that limits transgender youth in sports participation and health care, that President Biden “believes that trans rights are human rights and that no one should be discriminated on the basis of sex.”

In October, Jennings spoke to Yahoo Life about her 2014 autobiographical children’s picture book, I Am Jazz, landing on the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom’s 100 most banned or challenged books of the decade, which she called “both disappointing and honorable.” (The title of the book also inspired her TLC reality show.)

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo Life.

Equal Pay For Women May Take 257 Years – How Venus Williams Is Fighting to Get There Faster
Venus Williams holding her fist up in victory while holding a tennis racket

By Jenny Sugar, Yahoo Life

Seven-time Grand Slam singles tennis champion Venus Williams wrote a powerful letter in British Vogue about the inequality she’s faced in her sport. “I always dreamed of winning tournaments like Wimbledon,” she shared. “Then, when I finally got there, I was struck by the inequality.” In 2000, she won Wimbledon for the first time, the men’s singles champion received £477,500 – the women’s singles champion earned less, £430,000. This drove Venus in her fight against inequality.

“I firmly believe that sport mirrors life and life mirrors sport,” she said. There are obstacles and inequality in women’s tennis because that’s what women face in the world. And it was this shocking statistic – in the US, women made 82.3 cents for every dollar men made in 2019 – that inspired Venus to start the #PrivilegeTax campaign, to “fill the gap,” using her own lifestyle and activewear company, EleVen by Venus Williams.

Through the month of March, inspired by Equal Pay Day on March 24, customers can choose to donate 19 cents at checkout when they shop with participating brands – Nordstrom, Tracy Anderson, Tom Brady’s TB12, Carbon38, Credo Beauty, and her plant-based protein company, Happy Viking. One hundred percent of customers’ donations will go to Girls Inc. in Los Angeles, an organization that provides girls with support through its enriching program that focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

Venus mentioned that a 2019 World Economic Forum study found that it’d take approximately 257 years to close this gap, but that the pandemic is at risk of slowing down our progress further. “We owe it to our daughters and granddaughters to ensure closing the gap doesn’t take that long,” she said.

This isn’t just a women’s issue, and progress toward inequality isn’t possible without men being part of the solution. “Sexism isn’t a women’s issue any more than racism is a Black issue,” Venus said. And this gender pay gap affects women of color the hardest. “As an African-American woman, to know how hard we have to fight to show we’re human beings with a heart that beats just like everybody else; to know what it’s like to face biases based on gender and race is why I’m so passionate about campaigning for equality across the board,” Venus said.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo News.

Meet NASCAR’s first Black woman on pit crew
Brehanna Daniels wearing a NASCAR uniform while seated on a NASCAR vehicle

By Robert Brown,  Click Orlando

Brehanna Daniels grew up playing sports, so it’s no wonder she made it to where she is. “I think I was like 4 years old when I started playing basketball,” she said. In middle school, she played four sports: basketball, track, field hockey, and soccer.

Competition at such a young age taught her lessons that she still carries with her today. Lessons like resilience, courage, and commitment have helped her make history. Now at 27, Daniels is NASCAR’s first Black female tire changer.

In 2019, she became the first Black woman to pit in the Daytona 500 and she’s still breaking barriers in the historically white, male-dominated sport.


“I’ve been around a lot of guys before because of the different sports teams I’ve been on, but this was different…it’s a sport that’s known for a lot of white men,” Daniels said.

Daniels’ journey in NASCAR started in 2016, when she was attending Norfolk State University, which is a Historically Black University.

One of her friends approached her about NASCAR coming to the school.

“I was looking at her like ‘Girl, you know I don’t watch NASCAR, what are you telling me this for?’” Daniels said.

Brehanna Daniels seated wearing a bandana on her head and safety goggles while holding a tire changing hose in front of a NASCAR vehicle.
In 2019, Daniels became the first Black woman to pit in NASCAR’s historic Daytona 500 race. (WKMG 2021)

At the time, she didn’t even know what a pit stop was.

That same friend showed her a video on YouTube and Daniels was intrigued, so she gave it a chance and went.

Daniels was the only woman in a group of men who tried out for the pit crew team as part of the organization’s “Drive for Diversity” program.

The program is aimed at recruiting and training minority and female racecar drivers and pit crew members.

Daniels impressed and she was invited to the national NASCAR combine, which included more than 20 women, and the rest is history.

Click here to read the full article on Click Orlando.

Human trafficking survivor becomes record-breaking triathlete
Norma Bastidas running outdoors with a backpack on

By and Jose Mayorquin ACB News

Truth can be stranger than fiction. It would be difficult for most Hollywood screenwriters to imagine Norma Bastida’s real-life story of survival.

“Growing up, it was a very difficult environment because of the cartels and surviving sexual violence,” said Bastidas, an immigrant from Mazatlan in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. “Unfortunately, it’s a reality for a lot of young people. I was trying to escape that when I was offered a job in Japan. It turned out to be not a real job offer, and I ended up being trafficked into a bar and became an escort.”

Eventually, Bastidas was able to flee her captors. After living in Canada for a number of years, she settled in Los Angeles. Attempts to cope with her dark past led to the life-altering discovery of a hidden talent and calling.

“Running was a way for me to confront all those demons I had. Within six months, I ran my first half marathon because my best friend was a runner and I passed her. And that’s when I thought, ‘you know what, I’m going to find my limits,'” said Bastidas.

She went on to run her first full marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon. She then took on ultrarunning and people took notice. Despite gaining international attention for her world record-setting runs, Bastidas wasn’t yet ready to reveal her full story. But after a negative encounter with a potential sponsor, she was emboldened to let her truth be known.

“They didn’t want to work with human trafficking survivors, because they didn’t want to work with ‘those’ women. And in one meeting, I was like ‘I am in one of those women.’ That was the first time I publicly ever said that,” said Bastidas.

Now determined to be a voice for human trafficking survivors she decided to take on her biggest challenge yet — the Guinness record for the world’s longest triathlon, a record held by a man. Norma’s pursuit of this incredible feat is chronicled in the 2017 documentary “Be Relentless” produced by iEmpathize.

“I wanted to go from Cancun to Washington D.C. to follow a human trafficking route to connect both countries. It was 3% swimming, 78% cycling and 20% running,” she said. “It was 95 miles swimming and I didn’t know how to swim. But I was determined.”

Read the full article on ABC 7 News

The Women who Power Formula One: Engineers, Mechanics and Directors on their role in changing a man’s world
Mick Schumacher of Germany and Alfa Romeo Racing talks with Alfa Romeo Racing Head of Race Strategy Ruth Buscombe on a track walk during previews ahead of the F1 Eifel Grand Prix at Nuerburgring on October 08, 2020 in Nuerburg, Germany

By Niamh Lewis, ESPN

Twelve years ago Chloe Targett-Adams joined Formula One as a corporate lawyer, and is now the sport’s director of global race promotions.

When she walked into the office for the first time, there were more women present than anywhere else she had worked, and it was the first time she had a female boss — Sacha Woodward Hill, who joined F1 in 1996 as a general counsel.”That was in a time when it [F1] was known to not have any women in it,” Targett-Adams told ESPN. “It was a mixed perception even then.

Photo by Clive Mason – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

“We know in the past there were female drivers, although sadly not for many, many years. Whether it’s a female thing or not, there’s not many of us in public facing roles, if any. I think that’s always, for me, one of the most interesting things about Formula One.

“As much as there is still to do, there was a real base of women and that’s something that is really important for us to remember. There are all these incredible women who really paved the way before us, whether that was from a commercial side and marketing and PR, legal or business, and even a bit on the engineering side and a little on the driving side so what that shows to me is F1 is not necessarily discriminatory against women.

“It’s just that we’ve not done enough to really open up access and showcase women working in the sport that there always has been, that actually it is a really great place for women to work and to build a career.”

But an ESPN survey can reveal the extent of the lack of women within the sport. Although 38% of Formula One Management’s 569 employees are female, data from teams is substantially lower.

On the public-facing side (discounting grid girls, whose role in the sport was revised in 2018) there have been few women in the sport’s 70-year history. The last woman to drive in a grand prix was almost half a century ago. Three women have been involved as development drivers within the last eight years but none have got further than a first practice session.

Other than drivers, only two women have managed teams, and neither are still working in the sport.

ESPN surveyed all 10 F1 teams on how many women are in senior roles within the team, and of the race team — the core performance group who travel to grands prix — what percentage are women:

Mercedes has the biggest workforce with around 1,000 employees. 117 of those are women, and 31% are in senior roles. In Mercedes’ core race team of 65 people, four are women, and of a further 20 people working at the factory in the race support team, four are women (20%)

Haas, who are the smallest team on the grid — a fraction of the size of Mercedes, employ 167 people, 15 of whom are women (9%)

McLaren have 66 people who regularly travel in the race team, five are women, and one woman is in a senior management role

Alfa Romeo said like all teams the size of the race team varies, but on average there are 51 people regularly travelling to races, of these five are women (9.8%). As for the F1 side of the company 13 women work in senior roles

Red Bull, Ferrari, and Williams did not respond to ESPN’s survey. Aston Martin and Alpine said they were unable to provide the requested information, and Alpha Tauri said: “Whilst we do have a high level of females in senior roles here at the factory we don’t have in the race team.”

There are women who work as engineers, directors, in marketing and hospitality for teams and across the F1 business. The numbers are small, but they have important roles.

On Alfa Romeo’s pitwall is senior strategy engineer Ruth Buscombe, who says although she was inspired by legendary F1 engineers Paddy Lowe and James Allison, a female engineering role model was missing.

“I think that was one thing I was really missing — although there were women working in Formula One you couldn’t see them, and it’s very difficult to be what you can’t see,” Buscombe told ESPN.

“Rather embarrassingly, I went from wanting to be a princess to wanting to be a Formula One engineer, there was no happy middle. I always loved maths at school and enjoyed the problem solving part of it. When I realised you could do maths in sport and competition that was the coolest thing in the world for me. My focus then was doing the subjects that people who went into F1 did.

“I was very lucky that when I turned up to secondary school aged 11, my maths teacher’s daughter was studying engineering at Cambridge and she was my hero — I was like ‘if she can do it then I can do it’. She went on to be a pilot and is a brilliant lady, she is maybe not as famous a name as James Allison, but Emily Todd was my inspiration.”

Mercedes’ wind tunnel technician Dr Kathryn Richards told ESPN her venture into studying STEM subjects, and subsequently F1, started when her aunt took her plane spotting at an airport. She was hooked, and her father took her to Silverstone in 1986 to watch a grand prix. The seed was planted and she went on to study aerospace engineering, and gained PHD in vehicle aerodynamics.

“I was a big fan of Michael Schumacher at the time,” Richards says. “I wanted to go to the Benetton factory and see the wind tunnels. I wrote a letter and it was picked up by a guy called Willem Toet [Australian F1 aerodynamicist and now sales manager at Alfa Romeo] and he replied and said yes, come along and bring a guest.”

As Richards comes towards her 16th year at Mercedes (formerly BAR-Honda when she joined), she says Toet’s support when she was starting out as a student was key: “If it hadn’t been for him I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Of the women ESPN interviewed, there were mixed responses on how aware they are of gender bias on a regular basis.

Steph Carlin, commercial manager of Formula Two team Carlin, told ESPN it just takes one comment to be reminded of inequality.

“For the majority of the time, it’s a really rewarding job so I don’t see myself as a woman in a male dominated industry, I just feel like most of the time I’m trying to do the best job I can,” she said.

“We have 15 drivers at Carlin and that’s different every year, and different driver managers, and then all of a sudden you’re woken up with a bit of a jolt when somebody would prefer to speak to Trevor [Carlin, team founder] instead of me. It doesn’t happen very often and most of the time I don’t even think about being in a male-dominated environment but every so often, maybe once a year, there will just be somebody who would like to speak to Trevor because he’s the person they feel they need to speak to and normally Trevor will say ‘no Stephanie will deal with that.’

“It’s only when you have conversations like this and you look around and how many other women are there at a management level in racing, it’s still quite rare.”

For Richards, being the only woman in her department and the only wind tunnel technician in the sport doesn’t bother her. At Mercedes, she has a few aerodynamicists who are women for company. But she has inspired more women to study STEM subjects and taken on women for placements and work experience with the hope there will be more coming through.

“I’m quite used to it now actually, it doesn’t really bother me,” she says. “When I went through college there were women on my course so I’ve been quite used to it since an early age and I just accepted it straight away when I started. I’ve never had any problems, I get on well with guys, I’m almost like one of the guys and sometimes act as them as well but I don’t have a problem.

“I’ve managed to get some young females in work experience. One of them wants to be a driver, another wants to be a mechanic. So in that perspective it’s made a difference on some people’s career paths.”

Buscombe says it depends who you’re surrounded by. “Certainly in Alfa [Romeo] it’s definitely not a factor, when I was hired the team principal was a woman [Monisha Kalternborn who departed in 2017] so you can really see the environment there. They just want the best.

“I think there is [an unconscious bias]. I think if you asked everyone in F1 and their results were anonymous they probably would say as a result of their upbringing they have to challenge their own beliefs and their own perception of what makes an engineer.

“That’s not necessarily just male, it goes for women, we all need to make sure we don’t walk into a room with subconscious bias and create opinions about someone because of the way they look, the colour of the skin, what they believe or who they love, and it’s a unanimous problem that all sports and companies have. It’s only going to get better if everybody checks their privilege at the door and focuses on being aware of bias and once you’re aware of it you have a chance to challenge it.”

How important is it to have a public-facing role model, like a driver? Targett-Adams says: “I think it’s really important because the more visible females you have in Formula One, the more obvious it is for a young girl to show that that is something that’s possible from any background that you don’t think, ‘oh, that’s for other people’. And it’s that it’s about inspiring the next generation, isn’t it? But also about creating those opportunities.”

F1’s director of marketing Ellie Norman told ESPN: “The most visible role is your driver and your team principles, but there are so many other roles, whether it is engineering or it’s marketing, there are lots of strong female role models leading and driving a lot of the business in Formula One.”

“We see more and more talented women in all roles throughout the paddock now. And in 2021 we have W Series joining so they’re going to be at eight events across this year. The role that W Series can play in women joining that racing triangle, because one of the brilliant things about F1 where it’s different to other sports is there isn’t a women’s team, so from a competition perspective, women have always been able to race against men and it comes down to: how good are you?”

How good are you, but also how much money do you have? Formula One is an exclusive sport and requires huge sums of money to compete.

“That in itself is a huge barrier for people of all backgrounds — that needs to be addressed. Scholarship system for all talent,” Carlin says.

“There’s nothing wrong with transparency and honesty,” Targett-Adams says. “No one is trying to hide away from anything. This is where we are and this is where we want to get to, so there’s a good start. Let’s not celebrate it [the lack of diversity], because you can always do better, but let’s acknowledge it.”

Read the full article at ESPN.

NFL hires Maia Chaka as league’s first Black woman on-field official
Maia Chaka looks to her left and laughs dressed in black and white referee gear.

Kevin Seifert- ESPN Staff Writer

The NFL has hired Maia Chaka as a game official for the 2021 season, making her the first Black woman to join the league’s on-field officiating staff.

Chaka will join Sarah Thomas as the only women to officiate an NFL game. Thomas was hired in 2015 and was part of the crew that worked Super Bowl LV last month. The NFL announced Chaka’s hiring Friday morning during a segment on the “Today” show.

Maia Chaka #136 officiates the game between the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

In a statement released by the league, Chaka said: “I am honored to be selected as an NFL official. But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”

The NFL annually updates its roster of officials due to retirements, departures and position changes of its existing group. Replacements are typically chosen from the league’s officiating development program, which is made up of officials from various levels who have been identified for potential promotion. Chaka joined the program in 2014.

Read the full article at ESPN



Naomi Osaka cruises to Australian Open title, claiming her FOURTH Grand Slam and second triumph at Melbourne Park

A Herculean effort was required to stage the 2021 Australian Open and navigate many of the pandemic restrictions. But the tournament still provided high-quality matches and produced two incredible champions in Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic.

With a delayed start, quarantine woes and the reemergence of the fans (then their absence and return yet again), Tennis Australia managed the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus as best as possible and continued to build on the successes of the 2020 US Open and French Open. There were upsets, miraculous runs by unknowns and thrilling on-court battles.

If there’s one thing the tournament made perfectly clear, it’s that, much like its predecessor, the 2021 season will be full of constant change — on and off the court.

Here are some key takeaways from the year’s first major.

The 23-year-old left little doubt about her current place in women’s tennis with another dominant performance. Defeating Jennifer Brady in the final, Osaka notched her fourth major title, tying her with Kim Clijsters and trailing just Serena and Venus Williams among active players — and is now on a 21-match win streak.

While her straight-set victory over Serena Williams in the semifinals garnered most of the attention during her run in Melbourne, it was perhaps her match against two-time Slam champion Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round that was the most impressive. Pushed to the brink in the third set and down 5-3, Osaka staved off two match points and never looked back. She won the next three games and advanced, ultimately becoming the eighth woman in the Open era to win the Australian Open after saving a match point.

With her latest triumph, as well as her current activism and celebrity off the court, Osaka is unquestionably the new face of the sport. But she doesn’t seem particularly fazed.

“Honestly, I don’t really think too much about it,” she said on Sunday. “For me, I just focus on myself and what I can do. So I don’t really put too much pressure on myself in that way.”

Read the full article at ESPN.

Serena Williams Talks Preparing To Face ‘Incredible Opponent’ Naomi Osaka
Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka hugging after a tennis match

Serena Williams praised Naomi Osaka as an “incredible opponent” in a press conference on Tuesday as the two tennis superstars prepare to play each other in the semifinals of the 2021 Australian Open on Thursday.

After defeating Romania’s Simona Halep in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Williams answered questions about how she felt about her upcoming match against Japan’s Osaka during a post-match interview.

“I feel good, I feel like … I’m here, I’m happy to be here, and I gotta keep going, that’s obviously the goal,” Williams said. “Obviously, I have an incredible opponent to play, so it’ll be nice to hopefully keep raising the level of my game – I’m going to have to.”

Elsewhere in the news conference, Williams remarked that Osaka is a “very strong player.”

“I feel like she does everything well, she has a good serve, she has a great return, she’s strong on both sides,” Williams added. (See the full clip below.)

Williams and Osaka memorably played each other at the 2018 U.S. Open, when umpire Carlos Ramos controversially issued Williams three code violations. Osaka defeated Williams in that match, scoring her first Grand Slam title.

Furor surrounding the infamous match overshadowed Osaka’s win at the time, and the event fueled a wave of racist and sexist attacks against Williams.

Williams addressed the controversial match in a 2019 essay for Harper’s Bazaar, sharing a note she sent to Osaka that read, in part:

“I had no idea the media would pit us against each other. I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete.”

During an on-court interview at the Australian Open on Tuesday, Williams commended Osaka for being both a strong player and an inspirational person off the court.

“It’s so good to see just someone that is so inspiring on both things,” she added.

Osaka, 23, who grew up idolizing Williams, 39, noted during a post-match interview this week that she always “watches Serena’s matches.”

Williams is seeking her 24th Grand Slam singles title, which would tie Margaret Court’s record, including the 13 Court won before the Open era.

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