Guest Post: Hana Farahat

A couple of reasons to make sure your daughters sit front row at this year’s World Cup games

Hana FarahatAlthough originally from Egypt, Hana Farahat has lived in Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Germany, Venezuela, the USA and Brazil.  This diverse mix of countries cultivated Hana’s passion for psychology, sports and eccentric cuisines (especially sushi, any day, anytime). While currently interning at ESPN for the summer, Hana is going into her senior year at Yale University where she is studying Economics and Psychology.

 

Having grown up in Brazil, the 7-1 hammering at the hands of the Germans left me sulking in the solitude of my cubicle in Bristol, Connecticut. This year marked the first time I watched the World Cup games away from the cheers and jeers of my father and brother. But, the tradition of watching the games with them has kept me involuntarily yelling and jumping at every game.

This World Cup, don’t forget to offer your daughters a seat as you tune into the exciting games. According to research conducted by the Women’s Sports Foundation, 80% of female executives working in Fortune 500 companies identified themselves as former tomboys and having played some form of sports when they were younger. It seems that knowing the rules of a football game can translate into success on the corporate field.

According to studies conducted by Goldman Sachs and Columbia University, companies that employ more women tend to perform better than those who do not. However breaching the testosterone packed boardrooms of these companies is another matter; women are constantly outnumbered and the odds don’t seem to be changing over the years.

Pressure, Competition and Mistakes are part of the game:

In a 2003 study conducted by David Dunning and Joyce Ehrlinger, both male and female students were invited to participate in a science competition. Only 49% of the women invited signed up for the competition while 71% of men did. This demonstrated a difference in the confidence women had in their skill set. I don’t need to explain how detrimental this would be in the corporate world, as it keeps women from volunteering themselves for new and more challenging positions. Similarly a study conducted at Hewlett Packard revealed that women were only willing to apply for certain positions if they met every one of the qualifications, while men applied if they met 60% of them.

Sports provide a safe space to learn that pressure, stress and mistakes are all part of the game and they occur naturally. Making mistakes, erring and then trying again is the key to a ball and chain we on the field and in the office know as fear of failure. According Barrett and Bliss-Moreau (2009) study, women are judged more harshly upon committing a mistake. Moreover a mistake done by a woman is more likely to be linked to her disposition, while one committed by a male is more likely to be attributed to circumstance. Despite this status quo, it remains of essence to hone women’s willingness to take risks and develop confidence in their skills on the field.

The Hard Work Ethic:

Household names in sports such as Tiger Woods, Serena Williams and LeBron James can all single out hard work as a defining factor in success. Sports are in essence ruled by meritocracy, more so than in corporate environments. A haven where every toss, stroke, lunge and pass can infuse a competitive, ambitious and daring mindset. This is not to say that women are not hard working, quite the contrary. The issue arises from the internal or external attributions women make when they encounter a difficulty. Women make internal attributions, while men make external ones. This means men are more likely to admit a class is difficult and then work hard to succeed. Women  on the other hand will bruise their own confidence and attribute it to lack of competence, thus heightening their chances of capitulation.

Increasing female involvement in sports certainly will not be an easy journey, but it is a necessary one. The corporate world is dotted with companies aware of this social necessity and revel in its profitable upside. Media and sports stalwart ESPN is constantly creating various initiatives through mediums such as ESPNW that seek to make their brand more appealing to women, an exciting demographic. Needless to say beer commercials and Adriana Lima may not be as enticing for Jane as they are for John, but future advertisers would drool at the opportunity of larger audiences.

As a baby boy emerges from his mother’s womb, from Day 1 he is embraced by the cool silkiness of a dry-fit jersey. Welcome to the team. Little do we realize all the added benefits that come from being a part of this club. I am certainly not advocating that all girls become tomboys, rather that sports become a more integral part of female identity. If sports can have 32 different countries speaking the language of soccer, perhaps it can also help create a common language between men and women in the workplace.

 

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