Women Talk Challenges in Sports Media Industry

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Women Talk Challenges in Sports Media Industry
Dec 5, 2018

By Emily Top

The Big Ten Network and the Association for Women in Sports media hosted a panel Nov. 30 in Indianapolis, Indiana, to discuss the challenges facing women in the industry.

Moderated by Michelle McMahon, a freelance sports broadcaster, the panel featured Nicole Cadwell, manager of remote operations at the Big Ten Network; Wendy Fallen, associate commissioner of the Big Ten Conference; Erin Harvego, vice president of marketing at the Big Ten Network; and Mel Faines, senior vice president of facilities/operations at Pacers Sports and Entertainment.

Each panelist spoke of working in a male-dominated field.

Fallen said although women in sports media have “come a long way,” others spoke of having their knowledge and understanding of sports questioned, often by their male counterparts. Their best advice was preparation.

“You really need to work twice as hard. … It behooves [women] to make sure we’re the most prepared person in the room.” Fallen said. “You can see the light bulb go off sometimes in their head … if you have overly prepared, it’s actually really fun.”

Cadwell added that women have “to constantly stay a step ahead of everybody.” Although this may not seem fair, she said, “Again, that’s OK. Make sure you do know what you’re talking about. Be prepared, and I think you’ll be OK.”

The panelists agreed more can be done to expand the presence of women in sports. Women have yet to break into some male-dominated areas, especially when it comes to on-air roles.

“How do we push the status quo?” McMahon asked. “How do we make it [from] the token sideline reporter girl into how do we get more play-by-play women? How do we get more hosts?”

The answer remains unclear, but Harvego suggested males in the room “try to be the voice for change.”

Joshua Fischman, a graduate student from Medill, said the panel was enlightening.

“The panel spoke to me, as a man, because, obviously, I don’t have the firsthand experience of being a woman in sports media, but I want to know what I can do to level the playing field,” he said.

The panelists agreed that progress will come from inclusion and supporting one another.

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