Today the NCAA Double-A-Zone blog posted information on two programs that are helping prepare female student-athletes for the real world.
Kansas’ “Hoop 2 Heels” and Oklahoma’s “Sooner Stilettos” aim to help female athletes transition from athletics to the professional world by learning etiquette, networking with women in positions of power, developing skills, and building resumes. The programs also provide female role models for the student-athletes. Fantastic idea! Access and exposure to female role models in positions of leadership and power is particularly important to girls and young women, as they have fewer such role models in their lives than do their male counterparts-and this is especially true in sport contexts. Such programs may also help females more successfully navigate the confusing (and gendered) professional labyrinth, and make the process of participating, gaining access, and reaching the highest levels of power a bit more obtainable.
Unfortunately, the chosen names of both of the programs only serve to reinforce traditional notions of femininity which continue to limit females in all contexts. Being a successful professional in the real world has nothing to do with donning heels and conforming to feminine norms. In fact, based on the data women who act in traditionally feminine ways (i.e., nurturing, warm, caring) are perceived as less competent.
Perhaps renaming the programs “From Basketballs to Briefcases” would be more appropriate and helpful.