The past few years have brought to light women’s long-standing struggle for equality in our workplaces. Recent social movements, such as #MeToo, have started to open up dialogue about barriers faced by underrepresented groups. These conversations are particularly important to helping change historically male-dominated industries, where the challenges are the greatest and most intransigent.
One clear example of this is the world of sport and sports media. Only 8% of content is actually produced by women with 88% of that content being centered on male athletes. In 2020 it may seem shocking to see statistics like that, however this reflects the reality for women working in sports today.
In this episode of “A Lot to Learn,” we had the chance to sit down and chat with the incredible Jackie Redmond. A true trailblazer who, despite working in a male-dominated industry, has made a formidable name for herself in the world of sports media.
Jackie shares her personal and professional origin story—from initially working in a dark editing suite cutting highlights to covering small Canadian diving events to finally working for the NHL and MLB.
Jackie helps dismantle the narrative that women in male-dominated industries can only achieve success through luck or through the sponsorship of a male leader in the industry. Her story of relentless hard work and perseverance is an important one for girls and women to hear; it means that their stories of success can look and sound the same as those of their male counterparts and that their achievements are deserved.
We touch on the harassment Jackie receives online and how many of the challenges faced by women in these industries are not necessarily happening where they used to (i.e. in the boardroom, or on-air), but are happening in more insidious online venues, where anonymity reigns, and anyone from anywhere can voice their opinion. Jackie goes on to explain that the subtly sexist comments she receives are often more alarming, as they belie the deeper reality that some people still don’t truly believe women have a place in sports.
Another important lesson is that women often come to hold the same views about themselves. In a story about a subtly sexist conversation regarding a team jersey, Jackie describes how her initial interpretation of a comment was the result of a lifetime of being told certain things directly to her about women.
However, despite these challenges, Jackie has become a prominent voice in sports news and commentary. The road may still be difficult and fraught with injustices, but women like Jackie prove that male dominance in certain industries is not inevitable.
Slowly but surely trailblazers like Jackie continue to carve paths for other women to follow. We join her in working to create a world where her path and her story is remarkably unexceptional.
It’s a future we’re all looking forward to creating together.
Jackie can be found hosting on the NHL & MLB Network, as well as the Puck Culture podcast.
Enjoy the episode, and as always, please feel free to reach out if you have any comments or questions. We all have a lot to learn.
Twitter - @jackie_redmond
Instagram - @jackieredmond
Youtube - jackieredmondofficial
Facebook - SNjackieredmond
4:40 Jackie relates her professional origin story, beginning with covering small Canadian diving events.
9:07 The story of making the transition at a young age from figure skating to hockey, and how those experiences influenced her understanding of sports and her ability to report and comment on them; how that inside knowledge helped her “prove” herself to male colleagues.
13:56 Despite being an experienced athlete, there are still those who detract from her experience by saying “Well, you played girls’ hockey…”
15:35 Given that 90% of sportscasters are male, Jackie explains how she had to overcome the fear of not being listened to or taken seriously in male dominated board rooms and pitch meetings by being herself. She also relates early conversations with her father that allowed her to believe that she did have a voice, and had valid opinions about sports.
21:50 Addressing the constant online harassment she receives as a result of being a prominent woman in sportscasting, as well as receiving flak for standing up for herself in response to offensive comments.
25:00 Delves into the difference between overtly sexist comments, which express explicit biases, and subtly sexist comments that come from implicit bias. Also addresses how implicit bias manifests in action, through hiring, promotion, etc. and how women can be perceived negatively for standing up for themselves in the face of criticism and discrimination.
29:38 Highlights the commonalities that people facing social injustice share in terms of implicit bias and its impact on both the professional and personal lives of women.
30:05 Continues the conversation about implicit biases and how those affect not only how women are treated by peers, but about they see themselves.
36:52 A discussion on what it means to be “on the panel” rather than merely “throwing to the panel”, which has historically been the role of women in sports media, and how Jackie has come to be a respected voice in the industry.
43:18 After Mike paraphrases an interview previously given, Jackie touches on the fact that while it is extremely important for girls to see positive female role models in sports and sports casting, it is also so important for young boys to see women in these roles, in order to normalize it. This highlights a complicated and subtle form of sexism, namely congratulating women on filling roles that men normally fill, rather than treating it as an everyday, expected occurrence.
48:57 Jackie, Mike and Braden highlight the importance of calling out instances of bias and discrimination in order to challenge the status quo, both for people experiencing, and for people witnessing instances of, discrimination and bias.
53:23 Wrapping up the interview, Jackie shares that she has just gotten engaged, and muses that she may have lost followers on twitter for no longer being “available”. This begs the question, why were they following her in the first place? She also shares plans to remount her youtube channel soon.