March is Women’s History Month, and today (the 8th) is actually International Women’s Day. How cool is that?
I’ve been super busy all week, getting ALL my work out of the way and dealing with four jobs and grad school — but today is Friday and my schedule has finally eased up, so what better way to celebrate the fact that I didn’t die from stress (or all the commuting I did this week) than to celebrate some amazing women I’ve looked up to in my life? After all, part of the reason I work so much is because I’d like to join their ranks one day!
Each week throughout this month I’m going to share with you all some women who’ve inspired me throughout my 22 years on this planet! I encourage you to share yours too!
So for this week, I’m going to introduce you to two women you might know already, but whose careers are impacting my life right at this moment.
When I was in high school, I was on the track and field team and it was the absolute best part of my high school experience. I would go to school even if I felt ill just so I could go to track practice each day and hang out with my friends. I also happened to have an aptitude for middle distance running, so my events were the 400 meter dash (one full lap sprint on a regulation track) and the 800 meter run (two full laps). Really, I think I was just the only athlete who wouldn’t give my coaches a hard time about my event lineup, but I developed into a competitive mid-distance runner.
Being the impressionable and track-obsessed young high school athlete that I was, when I watched Sonya Richards kicking butt in the 400m at the NCAAs for the Longhorns, I was hooked. She was awesome, she was the best 400 runner in the NCAA! I was in awe of her times, and she was a great sport. You’d never see her acting obnoxious like some atheltes do when they win (okay, she did have her moment in the spotlight at the Olympics, but COME ON, it’s the Olympics!), and she was always graceful in post-race interviews. She became my role model on the track, and I her advice for workouts and competitions always echoed in my head during practice.
I followed her progress throughout her college career. She was my inspiration to work at the 400, which was a race that most (read: all) of my teammates absolutely hated (something about the idea of a full out sprint for anything more than half a lap??). I also had the honor of anchoring the mile relay (four runners, one lap each) and to be a contributing member to the two mile relay (four runners, two laps each).
Now Sonya Richards-Ross is not onnly married, but also an Olympic Champion, and I now coach high school track athletes. Things have worked out nicely for both of us!
I know Erin Andrews is a sort of polarizing choice, because many people think she only works on ESPN because she’s an attractive blonde woman and men mainly watch sports, but she is a fantastic reporter and that stereotype is just one of many she has overcome as a woman in journalism today.
Most people accept that men and women are pretty much equal nowadays (despite data that shows women’s salaries still don’t stack up to men’s, but that’s a rant for another day), but I have to say from experience as a journalist myself that there are inherent setbacks of being a young professional woman — things that I never would have believed would happen to me back when I was in high school.
When I reported in college, I was assigned to cover fraternity and soririty news for a semester. What a hellish experience! Fraternity men said things to me (and things about me that eventually got back to me) that were disrespectful and disgusting. Even today as a freelancer working with other established professionals, I still fight the stereotype that I’m just a young, dumb blonde girl. People have refused to answer my questions and yelled at me at meetings, while men have asked much more scathing questions and reported much more biased and one-sided stories than I could dream of writing. People (mostly men) who attend these meetings question my ability constantly (“Didja get all that, missy?”). I get way more frustrated about it than I should, but I always think back to Erin Andrews’ horror story and tell myself that it could be much worse.
If you were of news-consuming age a few years ago, you’ve heard the story. Erin Andrews was stalked and filmed undressing in her hotel room by a peeping tom, and the video, of course, hit the internet. People actually thought she did it for publicity, because of course, women know that the best way to get people to notice them in their careers is NOT to work hard and be dedicated to your craft, but to put their bodies on display! (Note my sarcasm) Her stalker was jailed for two years (woopee!) and has since been released. The videos are still online — she can’t get them removed unless she buys the copywright to the original. It’s still the first thing that pops up in Google when you type her name!
But she didn’t quit. She continued reporting for ESPN on national television for the world to see. I can’t say that I would have had the guts to do that.
That’s all for me this week. Please feel free to share your own female inspirations and link your posts in the comments!