The NFL is a professional American football league consisting of male players. However, this doesn’t mean that women are net interested in football. Women are interested in football, now more than ever. In 2013, more than 40 percent of NFL fans were women—as of 2020, that number has grown to 47 percent. Still, being a die-hard fan of the game does not necessarily make anyone an expert in wins and losses. For many, learning the game on a deeper level involves playing it—and forming a network of coaches and mentors along the way.
In the 2021 NFL season, women made up 38.8 percent of the NFL league office, 25.3 percent of teams’ senior administration, 3.1 percent of team CEOs and presidents, and 1.5 percent of team assistant coaches, according to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) yearly report card. Since then, the CEOs and presidents percentage has gone up, with Kristi Coleman being promoted from CFO to president of the Carolina Panthers. There has never been a woman head coach or general manager in the NFL. While the numbers are far from equal representation, it’s taken years of hard work behind the scenes to get this far. And that effort has largely been led by the women already working in the industry.
While women have traditionally been left out of the NFL hiring pool for many reasons, there have been significant strides towards inclusion of women in various roles within the National Football League (NFL), including coaches, mentors, scouts, and other positions traditionally held by men. Here are some notable developments up to this point:
Katie Sowers: She was an offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers and became the first female coach to participate in a Super Bowl in 2020.
Jennifer Welter: In 2015, Welter was hired as an assistant coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals, making her the first female coach in NFL history.
Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar: They joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff in 2019, making the Buccaneers the first NFL team with two female coaches on staff at the same time. Locust was hired as an assistant defensive line coach, and Javadifar an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Callie Brownson: Joined the Browns as chief of staff in 2020 and added assistant wide receiver coach duties to responsibilities in 2022.
Mentors and Front Office Roles:
Kathryn Smith: In 2016, she became the first full-time female assistant coach in the history of the NFL, serving as the special teams quality control coach for the Buffalo Bills.
Sashi Brown: Served as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Cleveland Browns.
Scouts and Personnel Roles:
Regis Whittington: Worked as a scouting intern for the Baltimore Ravens.
Collette Smith: Worked as a preseason intern with the New York Jets scouting department.
It’s essential to promote diversity and inclusion in all sports, including football. Over time, attitudes may change, and opportunities for women to participate in the NFL or similar leagues may evolve. Efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the NFL continue to evolve, and more opportunities for women in various roles within the league are likely to emerge
Learn more about these pioneering women in the nfl:
The Sport Lady has been a lifelong sports enthusiast. She believes that sports have the power to unite people, create common bonds, and foster shared experiences. As a wife and mother of sports lovers, she is passionate about her favorite teams and cherishes every opportunity to watch them play. For her, every day is game day!