Catherine ContiIt blows my mind that there are still jobs out there that a woman has never been hired to do. And there's one realm in particular that's been especially hard for them to break into: men's sports. When women do get in, they often make headlines for things like the way they look or dress. Perhaps the names Ines Sainz and Jeannine Edwards ring a bell? But Catherine Conti wants to change that: She wants to become the first female referee in the NFL.

And she's well on her way to achieving that goal. This past January, she got a phone call from the Southland Conference to make her a Division 1 college football official. All NFL refs require five years officiating at a Division 1 level, so we'll expect to see her name again when her five years are up. She's just the second woman in the history of Division 1 football to become a full-time referee.

Conti is a woman who has succeeded because of her skill, not her looks. I know, I know, not all women who make it in this male-dominated field get by on looks alone, but let's be honest, looking good doesn't hurt. But Conti could be paving the way for women to break into this male-dominated sport, being one of the most important people out there on the football field.

What helped her get this far is the empowerment she gained from a terrible childhood experience. When she was about 4 years old, a family member began molesting her. Instead of turning into "one of those women who hates men," she let the experience liberate her. She channeled her yearning for fairness, control, and integrity to flow into her officiating career. And it's paid off. 

If Conti becomes the first female NFL official, it'd be a huge step to help women break into the league. Instead of headlines involving hot-looking sideline reporters and sexual harassment, she could make headlines instead for contributing to the outcome of actual games. As a female NFL fan, it doesn't get much better than that for me.

Should the NFL let Catherine Conti officiate games?

 

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