McDonough School of Business
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Washington Sports Insiders Discuss Increasing Role of Women in Sports

The role of women in sports has changed dramatically, and professional sports teams are responding creatively to a growing female fan base, according to four executives from Washington-area professional sports teams and team partners who spoke Nov. 13 at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. The event was sponsored by the Stanton Distinguished Leaders Series.

The speakers — Sarah Crennan (C’05), vice president and head of content, Yahoo Sports; Nancy Hubacher, vice president of sales and marketing, Washington Redskins; Patty Pierleonardi, owner, PMSI; and Rebecca Winn, vice president of marketing, Washington Wizards — discussed the impact of the increasing number of women both as players and as fans in a conversation moderated by Jimmy Lynn, adjunct professor of marketing.

“I think back to when I was a child, and I don’t remember having that many role models in women’s sports,” Pierleonardi said. “Right now, the presence is huge, and our kids today are going to get to grow up with these role models.”

Crennan noted that not only is marketing toward women important for the girls growing up today, but it also makes sense from a financial perspective. “As a strategy I believe that if you want an audience you need to reflect that point of view,” she said.

Hubacher talked about the creation of WOW, the Women of the Washington Redskins, adding that “it is something that was important to our ownership,” given the growing female fan base in professional sports.

In fact, according to Lynn, “For a long time the NFL was skewed 80% male, 20% female. Now it is more like 64% male, 36% female.”

The executives also noted the success of women’s professional sports teams, such as the WNBA champions, the Washington Mystics, and the U.S. Women’s World Cup team. The number of women working in the sports industry has increased as well, as evident by the four women speakers on the stage. “We’re here today because diversity matters, because it’s important to have as many voices as possible,” said Patricia Grant, senior associate dean for the undergraduate program, in opening remarks. “It is important that we think about not only who is invited to be a part of the conversation, but who is made to feel that they belong.”

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