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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ward

Breaking the Cycle: Empowering Women to Overcome Limits in Sports and Careers

Did you know that by age 14, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys?

This troubling statistic reveals a deeper issue that extends far beyond the playing field.

Despite significant progress, female athletes still face discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. These young girls often endure bullying, social isolation, and unfair performance evaluations, ultimately leading to them losing their starting positions.

The impact of these early experiences doesn't fade with time. They echo throughout a woman's professional life, something I see regularly with my clients.

Women in the workplace are often less likely to put themselves forward for promotions and frequently face bullying. A study by McKinsey shows that women are 18% less likely to be promoted than their male peers, and Stanford research indicates that women receive 24% more negative feedback in performance reviews than men, often criticizing their personalities rather than their work. Additionally, women are 38% more likely to be bullied in the workplace, with 58% of bullying victims being women compared to 42% being men.

When I was in elementary school growing up in Canada, we had to endure the grueling annual "Canada Fitness" endurance tests every year. This included everything from the 50-yard run, the 300-yard run, flexed arm hangs, the shuttle run, speed situps, and the standing long jump. Sort of like a mini-olympics for kids that came with very little preparation or training ahead of time.

Year after year, I dreaded the runs in particular because, without fail, I would get a stitch in my side after only a few minutes. We weren't allowed to stop, and there was usually at least one kid vomiting when it was all said and done.

By the time I was 10, I had accepted I "just wasn't good at sports". Part of this came from the feedback I was getting from everyone around me (teachers, students, coaches), but also from my newly internalized narrative that was growing like a weed and becoming a cornerstone of my self-esteem and worth.

"I suck at sports".

"Exercise makes me feel like shit".

This inner monologue led me to years of neglecting my physical fitness for fear of perception.

Even now, I feel self-conscious about exercising in front of people.

However, I’m rewriting this story. Finally.

Making a consorted effort to move my body. Walking. Going to the gym. Building my strength.

This journey is reinforcing for me what I so often tell my clients.

It's never too late to change the narrative we've been telling ourselves about ourselves.

Just as I'm challenging my own limiting beliefs, I encourage you to do the same in your careers.

Stop dimming your light.

Put yourself forward, and rewrite your professional story with confidence and clarity.

Empower the next generation of women to shine brightly, both on and off the field.


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