The Indiana Pacers just made history, but not on the basketball court–on the sidelines. They just hired former WNBA executive Kelly Krauskopf as the first female assistant general manager in NBA history. Welcome to 2018, NBA.
Like many women trying to get hired for a “man’s job,” Krauskopf is probably over-qualified. She was the president and chief operating officer of Indiana’s WNBA team, Fever, from their inception in 2000 through the 2017 season, when she left that franchise to take over the Pacers’ esports team in the NBA2K League. As ESPN notes, during her tenure with the Fever, the team made 12 playoff appearances, won three conference titles, and the WNBA championship in 2012. She’s also helped select the players for USA Basketball’s women’s national team, which went on to win gold medal victories at the Olympics.
While this is a first for the NBA (which has promoted women as assistant coaches), Major League Baseball paved the way, with the Boston Red Sox promoting its first female assistant GM, Elaine Weddington Steward, back in 1990. Then the New York Yankees hired Jean Afterman and the Los Angeles Dodgers brought on Kim Ng as assistant GMs. Ng has reportedly been interviewed for five general manager jobs, all of which ultimately went to men.
In the world of football, four women have broken into the ranks of coaching: Kathryn Smith with the Buffalo Bills, Jen Welter with the Arizona Cardinals; Collette Smith with the New York Jets; and San Francisco 49ers Katie Sowers. No managers yet, though.
In U.S. professional sports, there are no female head coaches, and this is unlikely to change soon due to both misogyny and stereotypes, but also, as The Guardian notes, because ironically, Title IX has limited the number of women coaching at the college level, where many coaches earn their stripes. Before Title IX passed, 90% of women’s college teams were coached by women,” The New York Times reports. “Today that number sits at 40%.” The Guardian also notes that “while 60% of women’s NCAA teams are coached by men, only 2-3% of NCAA men’s teams are coached by a woman.”
There are also very few women coaching youth sports. According to the Aspen Institute, in 2017 only 28% of youth sports coaches were women. It’s hard to break what SB Nation called the “Glass Sideline” when you can’t even get off the bench.