GRAPHIC BY CHRISTINA QUACH
By RANI CHOR
As thousands of people crowd Dartmouth University’s football stadium, there is only one thing they are here to see: the only woman on the field, Callie Brownson, leading her team to victory.
At only age twenty nine, Brownson has already taken the football industry by storm; snagging a spot as the executive offensive quality control coach at Dartmouth University, becoming the first female coach in Division One college football history.
In light, Brownson’s rise to success is only the beginning of the ongoing cultural shift where women are finally being able to take on leadership roles in popular sport industries such as football, which have long been dominated by men.
As a result of living in a culture with a social stigma against woman, success has never been easy for Brownson. In her freshman year of high school, she was quickly rejected from her home school’s football team, based simply on the bias that the coach was uncomfortable with putting a girl on the team.
What Brownson had to go through is only the tip of the iceberg Fortunately, this ended up having an opposite effect on Brownson refusing that the sport she loved could not make room for her.
Deciding to challenge the gender norms, Brownson played as a free safety and running back for the ‘D.C. Divas’ a semi-pro all women team drafted in Washington, DC. From there, she went on to win two gold medals with her United States Women’s National American football team.
Evidently, as Callie Brownson continues to challenge gender norms, women seeking to break into a male dominated sport such as football, feel a call to action.
In context, women comprise nearly half of National Football League (NFL) viewers but still remain strikingly absent from the fields. Essentially, this proves the result of gender stereotypes on the sports industry. Many opportunities to find a job in the football industry require playing football at a college level, or at the very least being on a high school team. This relates due to footballs strong connection with masculinity, leading to many women to lose the network they require to find a role in the football realm.
On the contrary, Brownson was not spared from the sweep of social stigma that surrounds the American culture. She didn’t play at all during high school, and in college decided to major in sports management. Yet, after taking a chance and doing a pre-season internship at Dartmouth Brownson’s hard work and patience has paid off. Since being hired, Brownson’s excellent tactical skills and creative organization led Dartmouth’s football team, the “Big Green”, to a victorious start of their season.
Currently, the ‘Big Green’ are 6-0 and have yet to give up more than 18 in a single game this season.
As a result, Dartmouth now ranks twenty-fourth out of the twenty five top football teams in the nation.
Despite the teams spiral of success all eyes are on the woman making history: Callie Brownson.
Football has remained a male dominated sport for generations to come. However, slowly but surely, female football is expanding at both a high school and college level.
At a high school level, more than 1,700 girls were playing football during the 2013 and 2014 season. Compared to years before when the minimal numbers discouraged many girls to play. Now with woman like Callie Brownson leading football teams to victory, it is undeniable that female interest has spiked and barriers are coming down.
Nevertheless, the gender stereotypes attached to our cultural stigma still exists.
Moreover, many bystanders are not aware of women football, much less exposed to it. Yet, with the growing development of female fans and both gender participation, women are making a name for themselves, on and off the field. As seen in the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills, Sarah Thomas and Shannon East, illustrating in have been hired as coaches, and officials
Essentially, thow women are making impacts in this male dominated field, and from the evident success of both football teams, that women are just as capable of coaching football as their male counterparts.
In addition, telling her story Brownson says, is her opportunity to change football. “Being the first doesn’t matter to me,” she says. “Being the first of many is what’s important.”
Brownson’s victories signify a broader cultural shift where females are slowly advancing. In years to come, if women like Callie Brownson continue to push past the gender norms that surround football, in a few years we may very well be cheering for a women scoring the winning touchdown in the Superbowl.