In soccer. In football. In basketball. Now in ski patrols. More and more, women today are breaking barriers and smashing glass ceilings in fields that traditionally have been men-only, not just in sports but across all disciplines: business, politics, medicine, law, tech…the list goes on.
Are men changing as well as women?
Which causes me to ask the question: Is one of the reasons women are finally making strides in male-controlled fields and changing the status quo due to the fact that men themselves are changing too? A New York Times article, “A Surge of Women in Ski Patrols, Once Nearly All Men,” from February 2021 seems to echo this perspective. It reports: “As the number of women in ski patrols has increased, so has acceptance that the service, a network of volunteer and professional organizations nationwide dominated by men for decades, is finally catching up to the times.”
Can women do jobs formerly only done by men? The answer: a resounding yes.
In the article, Kari Brandt, the ski patrol director at Diamond Peak Ski Resort in Incline Village, Nevada, described her recent rescue of an injured 250-pound man, who “did a double-take upon her arrival” but then didn’t object as she safely transported him down the mountain on a toboggan. Brandt is also the founder of a group aimed at growing the number of women in the industry. According to The Times, females now account for 23% of the 31,027 patrollers in the US, up from 19% in 2007.
When women break into historically male fields, other women notice
The Times article also quotes Taylor Parsons who joined the Diamond Peak patrol this season partly because she had heard about Brandt’s presence on the squad. “It empowers other women to join when the highest person up is a woman,” Parsons said. “It’s inspiring. It definitely makes me want to be better and keep going with it.”
In the best of outcomes, change can also inspire more change. Parsons, a snowboarder, recalled how a father skiing with his young daughter stopped her on the slopes one day and told her, “I just want to tell you that my daughter wants to switch to snowboarding now, after seeing you. She thinks it’s so cool a girl can do snowboarding and also do ski patrol.”
“When there are women on a team like this, it lends an important voice and perspective to the job,” said Addy McCord, the ski patrol director at Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado. “I can say that having women on patrol keeps everyone connected. Men muscle their way through the job and women do it with finesse. Having diversity in perspectives has elevated this entire team.” For example, instead of scolding skiers who have gone out of bounds, women ski patrollers tend to use a calm, conversational tone rather than yelling.
Gender barriers systematically coming down
As we’ve seen with the election of Kamala Harris as the first female Vice President and her husband Doug Emhoff as the first Second Gentleman, women are upending the old gender biases and outdated myths that have held them back for so long.
As Kolina Coe, the assistant patrol director at Northstar Resort in California and pro liaison for the National Ski Patrol’s Women’s Program, said in the NYT article, “Whether it’s on ski patrol or in the White House, we’ll continue to see more glass ceilings shattered as this perspective shifts. There’s been a wake-up call that women are just as strong and capable as men.”
I quite agree!
To read more about women breaking barriers and smashing glass ceilings
- It’s A New Day!!! Finally, Women Have A Seat At The Table
- Women “Firsts” Shatter Stereotypes, Look Forward
- Kamala Harris: Boldly Smashing One Of The Highest, Hardest Glass Ceilings
Refusing to be held back or shut out, women are smashing myths
In professional sports, corporate America, the tech world and even the US government, women are making their mark, excelling in fields previously closed to them. It’s long overdue, but at least change is happening. In your own life, are there glass ceilings you would like to smash or barriers you’d like to break through? I recommend my wife’s book, “Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business,” which you can order here. Like the groundbreaking women in the ski patrol, it can be done!
From Observation to Innovation,
Partner, Simon Associates Management Consultants