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?
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).
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 How can we change this outdated narrative?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!
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?
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.