An adult student auditing my class on Detective Fiction wrote elegantly about her new experience in the classroom for The Buffalo News. The article is available at the link below. I would be the “very tolerant professor” referred to in the article.
I was described as very tolerant because of my willingness to read and grade and comment on her assignments. This should have been a given, but of course, it did not reflect the world she grew up in, a world where women were not respected as scholars. And the world we grow up in continues to affect us.
I have a wife, three daughters, two sisters, seven nieces, and seven sister-in-laws covering a wide range of ages, so I think about these things more than many folks. They have faced different amounts of past market discrimination. Simply put, past market discrimination is when the actions of the past limit the pool of appropriate candidates for various careers.
Until women became members of Congress, or held other high ranking political office, it was difficult for them to run for President. Once women were allowed into the military, it took time for them to reach the highest ranks, and they still haven’t really. The first female four-star generals are among us. The first five-star female general remains in the future.
This also affects careers far less high-sounding than president or general. For example, sports-casting. Until CBS invited Phyllis George (a former Miss America) to become an NFL sportscaster in 1975, there simply were no women with that experience. Lesley Visser, more recently Michelle Tafoya, and others followed. But the largest pool of NFL sportscasters are former players and coaches, which excludes women.
While the NHL and the NBA have had preliminary explorations of female players, the NFL has not. However, the NFL has had explorations with a female coach, Jen Welter who had an assistant coaching internship with the Arizona Cardinals, and a female full-time official in Sarah Thomas. There is a growing corps of female NFL sportswriters who may qualify for future sports-casting positions.
This may sound funny, but I look forward to the day when there is a wise and gnarled old female sports-caster commenting on the NFL. Lots of the male sportscasters are handsome. Many more are not. Some such as John Madden and Paul Maguire were fun bigger-than-life characters, and how handsome they were (or were not) was not an issue.
Phyllis George (66), Lesley Visser (62), Michelle Tafoya (51), and Andrea Kremer (56) are aging remarkably well. As a healthy middle-aged man I am appreciative of their appearance. But they haven’t held their positions for so long because of their looks, they’ve had their jobs because they are good at what they do.
I look forward to women who do what John Madden, Al Michaels, and Paul Maguire did, sports-casting into their 70’s, bringing experience, cantankerousness, and fun to the job. And with no concern for their appearance.