In 2022, the sight of women covering major sports in this nation goes relatively unnoticed by most people. We have grown accustomed to seeing women on the field and in the locker room conducting interviews with players. This degree of access was not always granted to women, however. And, because of that, women were not provided with equal access to do their jobs. Throughout our nation’s history, women have fought for equal access to employment and equal pay. Recently one of the voices in the fight for equal access fell silent after a battle with cancer – Robin Herman. Robin was a reporter for the New York Times in the 1970s and covered the National Hockey League (NHL).
Prior to 1976, women were not allowed in the men’s locker room for post-game interviews. These interviews were critical for sports reporters, as they often included quotes and insights from the players right after the game. Robin and other women covering men’s professional sports were prevented from conducting these interviews which have become so much a part of sports reporting. After several years of refusing to be denied the right to do her job in the same fashion as the men in her field, the NHL opened its locker rooms to all reporters, irrespective of gender, in 1976. Robin Herman is one of the reasons that we take for granted women covering sports. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we must remember the sacrifices and determination of all those women who gained equal access and, in doing so, made our nation more inclusive and better for all.
It has been 46 years since Robin Herman and her generation of women pushed the envelope of full access and opportunity, but they were not the first to do so. In 1933, Frances Perkins became the first woman to serve in a Presidential Cabinet, when she became Labor Secretary. In her role, she was undaunted and instrumental in reforming workplaces and ensuring worker safety. In 1942, Hazel Ying Lee became the first Chinese American woman to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. Even though she experienced some discrimination, she was committed to serving her country and to making it better for those who would come after her. Hazel Ying Lee died on November 25, 1944, when her plane crashed because of a mid-air collision. Even in death, her fierce spirit and determination were celebrated. We must never forget these women. They are a part of our history and a part of us.
Today, the tradition of grit, determination and excellence continues and is embodied in practitioners like Maria Vaso, LISD World Languages Coordinator. Maria’s journey as an educational leader started in rural Spain, in 2004, when she was the first woman named to lead Carpe Diem Secondary School. Maria’s initial appointment was met with bias and indifference, but due to her exceptional leadership skills and her refusal to accept anything other than full access to perform her duties, she was able to lead the school to significant levels of achievement which benefited not only the students, but the entire community. This level of honorable resilience is in keeping with the women mentioned above and serves as a beacon for those coming after her. We are fortunate to have so many phenomenal women leaders in LISD.
I have been blessed with many amazing women who have shaped and guided me to this point in my life. My mother, my three sisters, and my wife. Each of them, like the women who came before them, are smart, tough, resilient and in the words of my middle sister – they ain’t having it. Women’s History is about the past, but it is also about the present. There are some truly amazing women in our midst. They are impacting the present and shaping a better future for us all. As we celebrate Women’s History Month in 2022, my challenge to you is to identify the woman or women in your life to honor right now.
Leander ISD Chief of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion DeWayne Street contributed this article. For more information on the district’s DEI initiatives, please visit www.leanderisd.org/equitydiversityinclusion.