WA Inspirational Contributions by NACAC Gender Leadership Working Group members
This topic is very timely for me as I step down after 12 years as the President of the Bermuda National Athletics Association. Fortunately for me my position was never contested over a 12 year period. You may ask why, and I have my views and thoughts and I have put them in perspective and listed them below. What I do know that on my departure, several persons have reached out to me local, international, athletes, officials, coaches including my Government officials congratulating me on a job well done and hoping that I am not leaving the sport. I guess I did OK. This sport is my passion so I am not going anywhere.
If you are a woman preparing for your upcoming elections, I have a few tips that could assist towards your success. These tips are not only for preparing for the position but also being relevant in that position and gaining respect while in that position.
- Make sure you are very prepared for any position that you are running for (preparation is the key). We don’t want males to say “we give a woman a chance and she makes a mess of it”.
- Don’t run for a position if you have no knowledge of the position or the expectations
- Don’t run for a position if you have no knowledge of the association
- Don’t try to start from the top, work your way up (have a well thought out plan)
- Don’t run for a position if the voting public do not know who you are (have a brand)
- Make sure all of the voters know what you bring to the table (know your skillsets)
- Do not be afraid to toot your own horn
- Go in with confidence
- Speak with confidence
- If you are successful in obtaining the position especially if you want to keep the post for several years
- Make sure if you make a promise do not break it as that is how you can begin to gain respect
- Build trust
- Be consistent with your message
- Always show confidence
- Stand up for what you believe in
- Be transparent at all times (you will be tested)
- Be on time (it is important to respect other people’s time)
- Dress appropriately for all occasions (meetings, track events, dinners)
- Be organized
- Be passionate about your role
- Be available if the media has questions or other associations, team members etc. (they help to build your brand)
- Be open to negative and positive criticism (look at it as growth & development)
- Be flexible as things change all of the time
- Be a team player
- If you are leading a team, make sure you empower your team
- Make sure your team is part of the decision making process
- Don’t lead with a heavy hand (you will lose your team)
I wish all of you the best of luck and be successful and powerful in whatever role you obtain.
Yo no escogí ser presidenta. Dos de las claves principales para poder llegar a serlo fue mi proceso de crecimiento personal y conocimiento profesional , ya que mi plan fue ir subiendo a medida iba adquiriendo seguridad y confianza, en diferentes temas en el atletismo, llegando a ser secretaria general en un primer periodo dentro de la junta directiva y en un segundo periodo siendo la tesorera, lo cual me llevó a hablar con más confianza siendo muy organizada y transparente en mi trabajo y con mis colegas.
A mi llegada como presidenta, me he encontrado con mucho conocimiento adquirido a través de estos 8 años el cual me da la certeza por el bien del atletismo salvadoreño, regional e internacional.
Cuando una mujer llega a estos puestos de decisión y dirección debe contar sí o sí con expertos a su alrededor que han crecido al igual que tú en sus respectivas áreas, esta es la tercera clave.
En la junta directiva actual de 5 miembros, somos 3 mujeres dentro de ella, Daniela como vicepresidenta, Secia como Vocal y yo como presidenta, lo cual me lleva a pensar en lo acelerado que puede ser el proceso dentro de estos puesto ejecutivos, dando pasos rápido agigantados pero con mucha confianza.
Si tu estas pensando en presentarte para elecciones toma en cuenta lo siguiente:
- Llénate de mucho conocimiento en las áreas administrativas
- Conoce cómo es tu liderazgo
- Conoce a fondo a la gente que es parte del atletismo
- Conócete más y más cada vez, en tu hacer
- Envía mensajes claros y que de el blanco
- Refuerza los temas una y otra vez
- Cada persona debe estar haciendo eco de los mismos principios y compartir el mismo mensaje
Te deseo la mejor de las suertes en cualquier rol que obtengan. abrazos
I did not choose to be president. Two of the main keys to be able to become one was my process of personal growth and professional knowledge, since my plan was to go up as I was acquiring security and confidence, in different topics in athletics, becoming general secretary in the first place in the executive board and in a second period being the treasurer, i learn to speak with more confidence, being very organized and transparent in my work and with my colleagues.
Upon my arrival as president, I have found a lot of knowledge acquired through these 8 years which gives me certainty for the good of Salvadoran, regional and international athletics.
When a woman reaches these positions of decision and direction, she must have experts around her who have grown like you in their respective areas, this is the third key.
In the current board of directors of 5 members, there are 3 women within it, Daniela as vice president, Secia as member and I as president, which leads me to think about how accelerated the process can be within these executive positions, taking fast gigantic steps but with a lot of confidence.
If you are thinking of running for elections, take into account the following:
1.Fill yourself with a lot of knowledge in administrative areas
2.Know what your leadership is like
3.Get to know the people who are part of athletics in depth
4.Know yourself more and more each time, in your doing
5.Send clear messages and hit the target
6.Reinforce themes over and over again
7. Each person should be echoing the same principles and sharing the same message
I wish you the best of luck in whatever role they land. Hugs
Overcoming Discrimination and Stereotyping
A Female President in Athletics vs a Female in the Corporate World Becoming a President in Athletics and a Vice President/Manager in the corporate world, have been different journeys and different experiences. As a female some of those experiences have been good and some not so good. I never really had to overcome huge barriers or gender discrimination in the world of athletics but had huge barriers to overcome in the corporate world. Starting as a student athlete, my goal was always to give back to my country and sport once I completed university. I started as a coach but then decided the best way for me to make a change would be as a member of the Association’s administration team. Fortunately, I had no difficulty or opposition being voted on the Executive Board for my federation.
At that point and time we had an equal gender balance on the Board with a male President. I sat on the Board for 1 year learning the ropes before I decided I wanted to be at the helm of our Association. Fortunately, I had built up my reputation by chairing the Track & Field Committee and had gained the respect of our affiliates. When I decided to run for President, I ran unopposed and was 100% supported by all of the affiliates. I have to say I learned “on the job” and there was a lot to learn not just locally but internationally as well. I have run unopposed during 3 elections and feel I have gained the respect of our affiliates, media, the public, the Government of Bermuda, NACAC, WA and other sporting organizations in Bermuda.
Sporting Organisations in Bermuda do not lack female leaders and Board members but I recognize it is not the same in many other countries around the world. I am pleased to say that our Board is currently majority all female. The problem has arisen and there is a concern for the lack of female coaches, officials and technical leads in athletics. Is it because the opportunities are not there or are there barriers to females presenting themselves when these openings occur? Do they feel there is still gender discrimination so do not put themselves forward for these positions? These are some of the questions that come to mind as I consider these challenges. In the Corporate world it hasn’t been as easy, as there is still gender discrimination and stereotyping.
I have been faced with gender discrimination throughout my career as a Project Manager prior to being promoted to Manager. The questions asked by male senior executives “Can you manage multiple projects at the same time?”, “You need to take this course or this training because we want to make sure you can handle the job”, “Can you work late if we need you to, as I know you have a child and may not always be available?”. These questions are never asked of my male counterparts. They are given the positions and learn on the job and never had to attend training. At a point I believe I would be given the promotion as I had worked very hard that year, however was told no, not yet. When asked why as I had considered my exceptional annual performance review, there was no reason given. I had to claw my way to promotion to become a Manager in two organizations proving myself beyond what I believe was necessary to prove I was capable of performing the job.
I was determined not to allow anything to stop me from reaching my goals, I was not deterred. I have seen males who had less qualifications than me promoted before I was presented with the opportunity. Once becoming a Manager and being a part of a Board and project meetings, many times I was the only female in the meeting. I have always found it difficult to get my point across and have my suggestions received. There have been times when I have made suggestions during meetings, only to be ignored then a male counterpart would make the same suggestion shortly thereafter and it was accepted. Sometimes I felt as if I was invisible. I also had the privilege of managing a team of all males. What I learnt from this experience as a female in my very first meeting with them, I had to communicate my expectations of them and of myself, don’t promise what you can’t deliver, be stern, be open, honest and transparent. They had reservations at the beginning but after a few months they realized I delivered what I said and, I got things done. We met on a regular basis and I listened to them.
This gained their respect and had a fruitful working relationship but it was a lot of work and commitment on my part. I know my predecessor who was a male did not have to jump through as many hoops to establish himself in the same role. The corporate world has a long way to go in order to eliminate gender discrimination and I don’t think many organizations are ready to eliminate “The Old Boys Club”. I believe we have made significant strides in sport specifically athletics. My hope is, with the changes to the WA Constitution, followed by Member Federations, creating avenues for females to be voted into decision making positions combined with, the Gender Leadership courses and women supporting women in sport we should see a huge change in the very near future.
Spanish: Cuando conocemos el deporte a temprana edad nos entrega una gestión propia.
Llegar a convertirme en la presidenta de la federación de atletismo de mi país y ser la fundadora- directora general de mi propia empresa lo convierte para mí en un reto muy enriquecedor actualmente, podría decir que una de las limitantes es el tiempo que le doy a cada uno de estos roles, sin dejar atrás los roles generacionales a los cuales no vemos envueltas las mujeres como estereotipos sociales, pero no es así, debo confesar que a muy temprana edad comprendí cómo poder hacer uso de ambos elementos tanto masculino como femenino, que no ha sido fácil.
Llegué al atletismo en 1994 convirtiéndome en la primera mujer saltadora de pértiga de mi país a los 16 años, y dije adiós en el 2001 como atleta me graduó en la universidad de Ingenieria Industrial iniciando mi parte laboral. Inició en la parte dirigencial en la junta directiva de la federación como secretaria general, muy tímida, teniendo de colegas hombres, aprendiendo a pesar de todo a dar mi opinión, ya para ese entonces comenzaba a tomar los cursos de liderazgo de género de nuestra área NACAC. Se vienen nuevas elecciones luego de 4 años y ahora es el turno de ser la tesorera en la junta, con más experiencia, mucha más confianza y sobre todo más enfocada. Para llegar a ser la presidenta actual, sufriendo discriminación de genero en un inicio por una persona contratada de la federación, la cual me toco desvinculalarla por el daño no solo que le estaba haciendo al atletismo, si no que también a mujeres dentro del mismo. Ahora me toca poner en práctica lo aprendido desde muy corta edad;en mi adolescencia; en mis inicios en la junta alineando el formato empresarial profesional al deporte que más amamos. Recordando que para ser competitivos debemos ser colaborativos. Apoyando a las mujeres en su camino de liderazgo.
English:When we learn a sport at an early age, it helps us develop self-management skills.
Becoming the president of the athletics federation of my home country, El Salvador while being the founding leader of my own company as the general director has been an enriching but challenging experience for me. I could say that time is one of the challenges when dealing with both roles because of the social demands imposed to women by gender-generated roles, however, I must confess that at an early age I learned how to deal with both male and female expectations. Understanding this was not an easy task.
I am glad I started my journey at an early age, however, I had to overcome many obstacles to be in the position I am right now. In 1994, I became the first female pole vaulter in my country at the age of 16. I left in 2001. Then, I earned my degree as an industrial engineer and started building my professional life. I also begun my leadership adventure as part of the federation’s board of directors as general secretary. At first, I was very shy. I struggled to give my opinion as I was young and surrounded by mostly male colleagues. However, I dared to put myself out there and took gender leadership courses in our area: NACAC, which helped me to gain the confidence I needed to continue pursuing leadership positions.
After the four-year period, there came new elections and I was granted the treasurer position of the new board. I had more experience, I was more confident and, above all, I was more focused and determined. When I became the president of the current board, I suffered gender discrimination by a member of the staff hired by the federation. I had to remove this person from her position due to the damage she was causing the women in athletics and to the sport itself. Now, it is my time to put into practice everything I have learned in all these years as a professional athlete – from my early years, my adolescence, my beginning as part of the board, and as a sport leader – aligning the sport we love with the professional business format required to make it grow and flourish. As I lead, I always remember that to be competitive we need to collaborate, and I make sure I look out for other women who are striving to be part of this leadership journey.
Life after being an athlete
It is very important for us to have an idea of the path or route we will take in achieving our goals and purpose in life. The path we may choose might not be straight and narrow, but we have to have that belief it will bring fulfillment. I knew that after athletics I not only wanted to be in a career that consistently increases my network or net worth but also brings me joy and peace. I wanted to be an influence on the younger generation in helping them on their journey to fulfilment and being the best version of themselves. Working in media was also a great interest of mine.
Upon retiring, I wanted to study to become a Sports Psychologist because I believed as a former athlete, my experience and passion for helping athletes to reach their full potential is of utmost importance. However, after doing my research and realising all that it would take, which included the period of time needed to complete my studies, in Jamaica and also not being able to study outside of Jamaica for a few years, I had to change my path.
So my path led me to become a certified Motivational Speaker.I have always had a passion for helping people and motivating them, especially women and girls. We all have a story and I will always use my story to help people to become overcomers.
I have been doing numerous sessions with a lot of young athletes in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. It is very fulfilling talking with these young girls and boys and helping them to realise that greatness is within them all.
I was very fortunate to work as a Sports analyst right after retirement without training. After getting that taste as a Sports analyst, I got trained and am ready to spread my wings in this field.
For athletes who are about to make that transition from athletics into a new career, I would say, choose a career that you are passionate about. Whatever career you choose after athletics, it should be able to help you to achieve fulfillment. Life is too short to be doing something that does not bring joy and peace. It is also important to think about what you would like to do before you retire. Whatever is needed (training or certification) to be done for that career choice, you can do so and go right into it when you retire.
“THERE IS NOT ONE PATH. THERE IS NOT EVEN THE RIGHT PATH. THERE IS ONLY YOUR PATH”