Women are found in the most diverse occupations in the world: as teachers, doctors, scientists, writers, and as Fortune 500 CEOs. But why isn’t this translating into positions in the biggest sports leagues in the world? There is an unacceptable lack of women represented in front office and other positions of power in the NHL despite a large number of qualified women to fill all roles.
Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to ignore the few women who are there. Kim Pegula, Ann Walton Kroenke, and Susan Samueli occupy the co-owner position in the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, and Anaheim Ducks respectively. The Seattle Kraken, the NHL’s newest franchise, has named Alexandra Mandrycky as their Director of Hockey Strategy and Research, and Cammi Granato as their pro scout. There are others and the league has improved a lot since its beginning, but is it really enough?
Why Aren’t There More Women in the Front Office?
When looking at the front office from each of the 31 teams in the National Hockey League, there are a few things that become really clear. First of all, there are more white cisgender people than at a country club. Secondly, from those white people, almost all of them are men.
The league is made by rich men, and front offices are only a reflection of what is seen on the ice. And of course, women are not even in discussion to play in this league. Manon Rhéaume, the only woman to ever play in the NHL, did so almost 30 years ago.
However, the main focus of this article is not to discuss why there aren’t any women playing for the league. But why aren’t there many of them in the higher chairs? To start with, let’s take a look at the bigger picture.
Why Aren’t Women in Position of Power?
This article by Fortune shows that in 2019, women were about 47% of the U.S. labour force, but only 40% of managers, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And in 2018, 32.6% of all management positions were held by white women. The percentage of women of colour in those positions was even more depressing. Latinas represented 6.2% of management roles, Black women represented 3.8%, and Asian women represented 2.4%.
How much progress has society actually made? The answer to that seems to be not much, apparently.
When it comes to considering women in NHL jobs, things get even more heartbreaking.
How Inclusive is The NHL?
On November 9, 2019, Dom Luszczyszyn published an article for The Athletic talking about the gender gap in the league.
“From management to coaches to scouts to analysts to trainers, I counted every single person working in hockey operations throughout the 31 NHL franchises.” Dom wrote.
Discouraging is the word that probably describes the best results of his research. And that’s, to say the least. According to him, there’s an average of 46.6 people working in each team’s hockey operations. Out of those, only two are women. This means 96% (average) of all the hockey operations departments are occupied by men.
When looking at the final results from his research, out of all 31 teams in the league in 2019, the Toronto Maple Leafs were leading with 16% of their staff being women. Sixteen percent. Back then, there were two teams that were made 100% by men – meaning: there were no females working in those teams. Disappointment is probably the word that can be used here (there are many others but they’re too strong to put in an article).
Even if the article was written a little more than a year ago, it still speaks volumes on how inclusive this league actually is. There’s no need to be a super genius to see that not much has changed since then. What happens with the NHL is a clear example of performative activism. Teams raise the flag during certain dates but do little to actually change and right their wrongs.
How To Make The NHL More Women Inclusive?
It’s a simple question with a complicated answer. To make that happen, it’d probably take exonerating lots of the white males from the front offices. But it’s obvious that won’t happen.
The NHL is mostly operated by men. Either there are too many who think a female can’t lead or are afraid of change. A simple look at how many re-treads of old general managers, coaches, etc there are instead of even attempting to look for a new voice.
Women are not scared to stand up whenever something wrong happens. It’s clear to see that by just taking a quick look at all the female journalists’ Twitter accounts. They are not scared to point out mistakes and call someone out. And that is not good for the big guys. Things are comfortable the way they are for them and having people – women – pointing out every single thing that is wrong in their “perfect league” is not acceptable.
What needs to happen is for those who are in a position of power to start giving voice to women in the community. The Seattle Kraken hiring Alexandra Mandrycky and Cammi Granato was a step in the right direction. The Maple Leafs General Manager, Kyle Dubas, hiring more women to work in his team is a step in the right direction. But there has to be more.
It’s 2021 and things need to change. There’s no space left for misogyny, sexism, racism or any type of prejudice. Words, videos, and articles are beautiful but they’re meaningless if there’s no action. Create programs dedicated to women, make more spots available, start hiring by their resumés instead of their gender. Change can only start from the inside. That is the only way we will see more Women in NHL jobs.