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Lindsay McCormick: From Sports Broadcaster to Tech Investor

People

There's no doubt that women are still facing the challenges of stereotypes, especially when you're a woman in a male-dominated industry. Transitioning from sports to tech, Lindsay McCormick successfully proves that women can break the traditional workplace roles.


McCormick is a sports broadcaster whose career has taken her from hosting live events for the Super Bowl XLIX to being a guest correspondent for Showtime. Now, she is taking over the world of tech as an investor on Elevator Pitch. We sat down with McCormick to chat about the challenges and successes she faces in her career, and the impact of being a female in a male-dominated industry.

1. From your experience and success in the field of sports broadcasting, what did you learn about the traditional roles of female broadcasting? How are you challenging those roles?

When I started out over a decade ago, female sports broadcasters were few and far between. Women were typically relegated within the confines of just a few roles (sideline reporters, for instance). As time has progressed, I've been thrilled to see qualified women take on all kinds of new opportunities, from play-by-play announcers to color commentators, to personality-based talk shows.

2. Can you share a specific moment, anecdote, where you experienced sexism? How did you react, and overcome it? (Many women don't know how to react in these situations because of fear of losing their job or opportunities, our audience would love your tips and advice on this).

One example would be when an NFL Network exec asked me during an interview if I would get “knocked up," implying my child-bearing capabilities were a downside of him hiring me. While I certainly don't have the “perfect" or all-encompassing advice for any scenario, my general advice would be to not let disheartening moments like this deter you. Keep your head up and stay in the game! It's also worth noting that some of my worst incidents of workplace harassment came from women, who sadly wanted to eek out their feminine competition rather than help us up through the ranks.

3. Being in male-dominated industries, do you think women are still judged by their appearance instead of their achievements? How can we change this outdated narrative?

I think anyone on TV is judged by their appearance, hence why even men can spend hours in hair and makeup. Are women judged harsher? Yes. I'm not sure this will change anytime soon.

4. What inspired you to leave the sports world to build an impressive tech resume and judge Elevator Pitch with Entrepreneur?

I don't view it as leaving the sports world, as the two are starting to go hand-in-hand. Look at how big e-sports are becoming! I was fortunate that Ray Brown, executive producer of a movie I was in, “The Bounce Back," introduced me to Trevor Doerksen, CEO of ePlay Digital, who is launching Big Shot (essentially the sports version of Pokemon Go). I'm grateful that Trevor wanted Robert Horry and me to tag along on the ride as advisors and in-game avatars. This is how I first got involved with the world of tech.

5. What are some of the challenges you had to overcome to succeed and thrive in the tech world? Are they somewhat similar to what you encountered in the sports world?

When I first started in sports, you could count the number of women on television on one hand, and everyone knew their names: Robin Roberts, Suzy Kolber, Linda Cohn, Lisa Salters. I can't tell you how many job interviews I went on where employers would flat out say, “You are too young," or “Prove your sports knowledge to us. Male viewers won't believe a woman understands the game." I felt that with every interview, I had to go in as David against a Goliath of female stereotypes. That being said, I've found the tech world—and business in general right now—to be quite receptive to working with women. Much of this newfound openness may be cynically tagged as a desperate correction to the #metoo movement, but that's fine! It's up to women to take advantage of the new opportunities!

6. Give us some tips and tricks to build an unshakable confidence.
Figure out your purpose and zone out the rest. Be passionate, but don't hold things so tightly. When you focus on the process rather than the outcome, things tend to fall into place. As I've entered my 30s, I've tried to stress less about every new career twist and turn. While my family, my health, and helping other people, have taken priority. I couldn't be more happy with my career options.

Photo courtesy of lindsaymccormick.com

7. As an investor, what do you look for in startups and founders? How does a founder or an idea get your attention?

The first thing I look for is a strong work ethic and passion for their product or service. Secondly, do they have experience in the marketplace? It's always more comforting to invest in someone who has had previous success, but I'm also open to those with less experience.

8. What's next for you and how will you be using your success and story to uplift and support other women?

Great question! I've loved my work with Entrepreneur Magazine, and I hope to continue that relationship while expanding my own business ventures. As always, my health, family, and close relationships are held dearer than any job. Every woman should forge her own path, but I'm beyond thrilled if anything I've done has served as example or inspiration.
Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.