Women of FOX Sports and Geena Davis Institute discuss importance of female role models in sports

Aug 2, 2016 8:00 PM ET
Photo Credit: Brian Knott - Forget Me Knott Photography

21st Century Fox Social Impact

Guest post by Kelly Engle, FOX Sports

More than 100 people gathered in Los Angeles on July 28 to hear from a panel of truly inspirational women on the importance and impact of positive role models in the world of sports. At the beautiful Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, the Women of FOX Sports partnered with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to host "A League of Their Own: Sports Inspiring Social Change."

The evening kicked off with a reception followed by an introduction from Geena Davis, who is recognized for her advocacy of gender equality in media nearly as often as she is for her acting accomplishments. An accomplished archer herself, Davis also unveiled a new study about how recent films like Brave and The Hunger Games have resulted in more young girls pursuing archery.

The main event consisted of a panel discussion moderated by FOX Sports' own Joy Taylor, an on-air host for FS1 and FOX Sports Radio. The panelists included:

  • Dr. Jen Welter, who was both the first female to coach in the NFL as well as the first woman to play running back in a men's professional football season.
  • Angela Madsen, a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, who became the first paraplegic woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean and will also be competing in her third Paralympic games when she travels to Rio next month.
  • Alison Levine, a polar explorer and mountaineer who served as team captain of the first American Women's Everest Expedition and made history as the first American to complete a 600-mile traverse from west Antarctica to the South Pole, all while overcoming serious heart defects.
  • Niki Reynolds, a UCLA student-athlete and FOX Sports intern who helped convey the younger generation's perspective on role models influencing girls to take up sports.

Central themes throughout the discussion were taking chances, facing fear and breaking glass ceilings. These women have dealt with myriad obstacles and people telling them their dreams weren't possible, but they kept putting one foot in front of the other and never gave up.

Whether it be a real life athlete or an actor portraying a sports figure in films and television, it is crucial for young girls to see these heroes and know that they, too, can dream big and accomplish the same thing. This reiterates the mantra of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media - "If she can see it, she can be it."

From athletes to actors to executives, it was inspiring for all to be reminded that we can accomplish anything, as long as we have the drive and determination to do so.

Launched in fall 2015, the Women of FOX Sports initiative helps the business's female employees connect, support, and learn from one another. The group has featured a series of events including speaker panels and mentoring, and has rallied employees to give back to the community through volunteering and donation drives.

Read more at impact.21CF.com.