Women in the Super Bowl
No matter who wins in the Super Bowl on Sunday, history will be made. According to the NFL, for the first time there will be six women on the field during the game, including referee Sarah Thomas, the first woman to officiate in the Super Bowl.
Sarah will be joined on the field by Lori Locust, Tampa Bay assistant defensive line coach, the NFL’s only female position coach, and Buccaneers assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar and scouting assistant Carly Helfand. Kansas City assistant athletic trainers Tiffany Morton and Julie Frymyer are supporting the Chiefs in their second Super Bowl.
All of these dedicated women are redefining what it means to be girl strong, breaking barriers and taking on roles that were previously given only to men.
The first woman to coach in a Super Bowl was Katie Sowers, offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2020. Both Lori and Maral hope that their success leads to more opportunities for women coaching in the NFL.
“Obviously, it's working, and hopefully it’ll set an example for the rest of the league to kind of take notice and stop, you know, being maybe so narrow in their candidate search,” Lori said.
“I do look forward to the day that it’s no longer newsworthy to be a woman working in the pros or making the Super Bowl for that matter,” Maral said. "And, you know, I hope we get to a point where all people are afforded equal opportunities to work in professional sports because there are a lot of great qualified coaches out there.”
Girl Up is working to advance gender equity in sports, including this year’s Sports for A Purpose Bootcamp Tour, a series that covers sports facility accessibility, the social stigmas girl athletes face, pay equity, media representation, and the importance of sports in becoming a successful leader! Attendees will hear from professional women in sports and will have the opportunity to create an action plan to advance girls’ sports participation in their own community.
Sports are important because they help to build leadership skills both on and off the field. Girl Up is tackling gender inequality in sports to inspire and empower girls to break down gender barriers in sports in their own communities and around the world. Participation in sports builds leadership skills both on and off the field. A 2014 Ernst & Young survey found that 61% of women executives believe that their personal involvement in sports contributed positively to their career success and advancement.
But girls are less likely to participate in sports than boys: 40% of girls don't play sports as compared to 25% of boys. And twice as many girls stop playing sports by age 14.
A 2019 survey found that 77% of Girl Up Club members believe there are gender barriers that prevent girls from participating in sports. In addition, 80% of Girl Up Club members have experienced (or know someone who experienced) low attendance at girls’ sports events and body shaming of athletes. It’s time to put gender inequalities in the spotlight and create change.
Blog post written by Cheryl Kremkow
Sarah Thomas image courtesy of Gail Burton of AP Photo