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Is a Caitlan Clark out there your next C-suite Leader?

94% of C-suite women have played sports.

Caitlin Clark, the star point guard for Iowa and the new record-holder for career scoring in Division I,is the athlete everyone’s talking about. “Her away games averaged some 13,000 fans, more than twice as high as the average for non-Iowa games at those colleges, ESPN data shows. A couple of times, her games drew twice as many fans as the next best attended game,” point out Courtney Cox and Francesca Paris in the New York Times.

Beginning in 1972 with the passage of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, women in athletics has steadily grown and so has the impact on girls and young women. Caitlin Clark stands at the pinnacle of that growth, but there are millions of other women participating and evolving into solid teammates and leaders.

Research conducted over the last three years as part of Ernst & Young’s (EY) Women Athletes Business Network (WABN) shows the role that sport plays at every stage of professional women’s lives — from girls to rising leaders to C-suite executives. With their problem-solving skills and team-building experiences, women who have played sport are uniquely positioned to lead in the corporate world.

  • When they enter the boardroom, women athletes have a unique advantage by thriving on competition, determination and a strong work ethic.
  • Sport participation helps girls grow up healthy and confident, helps young female leaders rise, and helps C-suite leaders succeed.
  • EY’s findings show that 94% of C-suite women have played sports, demonstrating that sport participation can propel them into successful business careers.

The athlete entrepreneurs explain that playing sport has given them a strong grounding in what it means to be on a team — on both practical and emotional levels. And they are using that sports mindset to establish the high-performing teams required to grow their companies.

WABN’s analysis indicates “In addition to the strong work ethic, determination and team spirit fostered by their time on the playing field, they thrive on competition, which C-suite women who were polled in EY/espnW research noted was a bigger factor in their careers than did more junior women.”

We in construction are fortunate to have organizations like The National Association of Women in Construction, a professional association for women in the field of construction founded in 1953 with over 115 chapters. The purpose of the association is to support women in construction through networking, professional education, and mentorship.

And we in the Lean Construction Institute are blessed to have so many strong women leaders in our membership, on our Board, in our professional staff, and leading our Communities of Practice.

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