This year, women—and Asian women in particular—have continued to shatter glass ceilings and establish their leadership in historically male spaces. As Senator Kamala Harris prepares to become the Vice President of the United States, and the first woman and Black or Asian person to govern in that position, Kim Ng is also breaking ground by becoming the first woman and the first East Asian general manager of a major league baseball team, serving as general manager for the Miami Marlins.
Ng is thought to be the first female general manager in any of the four major men’s sports leagues: Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL). This is perhaps unsurprising as sports have long been male dominated. Women in the United States did not begin participating in nationally competitive sports in earnest until the passage of Title IX, which provided federal financial assistance to promote gender equity in education and enabled women’s inclusion in athletics. The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education notes that prior to Title IX, female college athletes received only 2 percent of overall athletic budgets. Thirty years later, by 2001, women accounted for 43 percent of college varsity athletes—an increase of more than 403 percent from 1971.
Women’s participation in athletics is important because, in addition to having health benefits, sports have been shown to increase women’s body image, confidence, and academic performance. Though, as is the case in many arenas, women in sports often have to work harder than men to prove their competence and gain recognition in their field. Prior to joining the marlins, Ng was an assistant general manager for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. Over the years, her teams made the playoffs eight times and won three World Series titles. Her leadership and the respect she gained over an almost 30 year career in baseball (she began as an intern with the Chicago White Sox in 1991) made her an prime candidate to be general manager.
Ng cites the legendary Billie Jean King among her heroes growing up, for her role advocating for women in sports. Each successive win paves the path for more women to succeed in fields where they had historically been barred. Ng’s success, like King’s, presents an opportunity for more women to enter the field of sports leadership and hit the proverbial home run.