In the second installation of a three-part series focused around women and discrimination in the workplace Jen Heisel interviewed UAB's Kylie Murphy.
Kylie Murphy is definitely a rising star in the profession in my eyes. A fellow Jersey girl, she was a graduate assistant at Troy, serving as the primary contact for men’s basketball, softball and track and field while acting as a secondary on football. Kylie has done incredible things to promote the profile of UAB football and women’s basketball, and it’s obvious that her student-athletes care for her as much as she cares about them. She is someone whom I admire when it comes to promoting her teams and getting out their message.
You’ve worked with revenue sports and some major athletic programs in a variety of schools. Can you talk about a time that you personally were biased against for being a woman?
I was assigned to work with a coach who told my boss he didn't want someone inexperienced and he didn't want a female SID, but he got stuck with someone who was early in her career and a female. It was always the assumption that I was going to practice to see the guys, not to do my job to promote them. I also had a coach tell my boss he didn’t want me around the players because I was a distraction, and I wasn’t allowed in certain areas because “that’s just the rule”, and it was assumed that me talking to a player to get them to head over to the media was actually me flirting with them and was distracting. More so, I've noticed the discrimination has been coaches going above me to my boss - but my bosses have always been very open and upfront which is something that I really thank them for. My bosses, both past and present (and all men) helped me and encouraged me to keep doing my job and the coaches will eventually see that.
Going along that same line, what would you tell someone who is experiencing blatant or inadvertent sexism?
Don't be afraid to be you. I'd tell people not to let it affect their work and to not let it get their spirit or excitement down, which is hard. But it’s worth remembering that you were hired because you are good at your job and that is enough. You don't have anything to prove to anyone but yourself. Let your work speak for itself and eventually, even though it can be frustrating, the coaches will come around if they have any sense. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other females in the business because more often than not, we've all had some sort of experience and it's nice to know you're not alone. I'm lucky that I had a staff that truly had my back and a boss that encouraged me to just continue to be me.
Some women may feel hesitant to reach out to another woman in the profession, either because they don’t have one woman they trust, or they don’t know how to approach someone about it. Can you talk about your experience reaching out to someone?
The first woman I reached out to was so nerve wracking for me! It took me awhile to, but my mom encouraged me because I felt lost and thought I was doing something wrong. When I sent the email, I felt like I was just complaining and blowing things out of proportion; I was afraid to seem like I was whining. My experience was the complete opposite. The kindness I felt in the response made me feel better in itself because I wasn't alone. I'm a mush - I cried typing the email because it was so relieving to get it off my chest. I was told I wasn't crazy and it helped me have a better outlook and be more confident in myself and my work again.