EDITOR’S COLUMN: Stop assuming people in leadership positions are men

I want you to take a second and imagine with me what you think of when someone mentions a person in a leadership position. 

Some words I think of are integrity, kindness and determination. Did you see a gender listed there? Neither did I.

If your automatic assumption that someone in a leadership position is a man, you failed the test. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is when people hear the words “Editor in Chief” and think of a man. My news editor had been emailing with a faculty member about a story and mentioned his editor, and the faculty member assumed I was a man, calling me “he” in the email. I know this wasn’t intended to be offensive, but it’s just a small example of the attitude many have towards women.

Other instances have been more obvious, such as a male professor dismissing the fact that I was Editor in Chief in front of my face. I will admit that I hadn’t heard my professor’s original question to Torch members and asking who was the Editor in Chief, but another staff member in our class directly told him that I was Editor in Chief. Did he direct the question he had to me? No. Instead, he continued to ask questions to the former Editor in Chief and former news editor in our class and yes, you guessed it: they’re both men. 

Graphic by: Cora Hall | Editor in Chief

I’m so tired of women not being seen as leaders. I’m so tired of women in leadership positions have their credibility questioned because of their gender. Women have to be overqualified to earn positions that are just handed to men.

A perfect example of this is Kim Ng, who was hired last week as the general manager of the Miami Marlins. She’s the first woman to be a GM of a major league baseball team and the news was heralded throughout the sports world as groundbreaking. And it was. 

But it was also the perfect example of what lengths women have to go to be hired for positions like this. Ng had 30 years of experience in the MLB. She is one of the most qualified, actually overqualified, people in baseball to gain this position. She was the youngest assistant general manager for the New York Yankees and when she interviewed for a GM position in 2005 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and she didn’t get the job.

She went on to interview for GM positions at the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants and was passed over for a white man. 

Ng’s ability as a leader and depth of knowledge of the game have not gone unnoticed over the years and many called her appointment overdue.

Women have proved their value in leadership roles time and time again. I’m proud to say that in my four years at the Torch, three of the four Editors in Chief were women. The two women before me led with strength and dignity and ran this paper well. 

One day, a woman gaining a leadership position like GM won’t be considered groundbreaking, it will be normal. We will only get there if people—particularly men—choose to support women not only when they are selected for leadership positions, but when they are on their way to those positions. 

If there is a woman in your life who is aspiring for more, who is striving to be in a leadership position one day, support her. An easy way to do that is to stop assuming that if someone is a leader, they’re a man.