Tomboys Rule the Workplace

soccer girlA few years ago, I was at a meeting for a women's economic club, sitting at a table with some very successful women. And they all had one thing in common besides their impressive resumes: They were all tomboys as girls and jocks in high school.

And they weren't an anomaly; a whopping 82 percent of women in executive positions played sports in high school, college, or both, according to a 2002 survey by mutual fund company Oppenheimer. As more girls who grew up with Title IX, the federal program that mandates equal opportunity in school sports, enter the workforce, that number is only expected to increase.

And the best part is you didn't have to be good at sports to get the benefits. Even if you were at such a small school that everyone made the team, or if you spent four years riding the pine, just being on the team matters.


Being a jock might get you a smaller butt, and it will also get you a fatter paycheck; half of women who earn more than $75,000 per year describe themselves as athletic, but only one in six women in the general population do.

The theory, according to this story in the Daily Beast, is that female athletes develop important business skills like teamwork, practice, and resilience. I'd add aggressiveness, in the good way; you can't help your team if you hang back and stay away from the ball. If you want to make an impact, you've got to be able to get right into the thick of it.

Being into sports, even as a spectator, also allows women access to traditionally male ways of networking. Playing on the company softball team or taking customers on a golf outing are important ways to build relationships that people like me, who cried in gym class, just don't have. Even being able to talk knowledgeably about "the game" last night with your male coworkers makes a good impression.

Are you "into" sports, as a player or spectator?

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