SSI begins partnership with empowHERed
By Katy Popovitch
SSI began a partnership with empowHERed, a new community providing opportunities and resources for women in the sports industry, this semester. With this partnership, all Ohio State students can use a 50% discount when purchasing a membership.
The founders of empowHERed, Meghan O’Donnell and Samantha Ward, met while rooming together during their ESPN summer internships. O’Donnell said Ward was the only woman she knew in the sports industry that she could rely on.
“It was always in the back of our heads that ‘man, we really wish we had some female mentors or women in the rooms that we want to be in,’” O’Donnell said. “We found ourselves repeatedly being the only women in the room.”
O’Donnell and Ward said they watched Erin Andrews growing up and thought being a sideline reporter was the only job option for women in the sports industry.
“I majored in broadcast journalism because I didn’t even know I could go into stats like Meghan did,” Ward said. “I never even knew that was a possibility because I never saw that. I never saw another woman actually taking on that job.”
Since they met at their internship, both women have continued to work in the sports industry. O’Donnell has worked for College GameDay, the Philadelphia Eagles and ESPN’s statistics and information group. Ward has worked for College Gameday, the Boston Red Sox and espnW.
This past year, O’Donnell and Ward decided to start empowHERed to create a space they wish they had when starting in the sports industry.
“The goal was to do something where we were actually taking actionable steps to create opportunities for women in sports,” O’Donnell said.
Weekly webinars with trailblazing women in the sports industry, networking events, a mentorship program, career resources, job shadows and internship opportunities are some of the services empowHERed provides for its members.
O’Donnell said that all women can become empowHERed members, no matter their major or interests.
“A lot of our webinars and resources are very focused on female leadership and how to present yourself in a male-dominated field because, unfortunately, that is a majority of industries,” Ward said.
Once someone becomes a member, O’Donnell and Ward set up a call to get to know them and how they can best help them. Members can send their resume, portfolio or anything they would like feedback on to O’Donnell and Ward.
“When we have these intro calls with people, our favorite thing is connecting people with people we think could help them,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell said she has received misogynistic comments and harassment while working in the sports industry.
“I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to, and I was like, ‘Is this normal? Is this what it is supposed to be like?’” O’Donnell said.
Having a community of women in sports, like empowHERed, who have gone through similar experiences and can relate to each other is important, O’Donnell said.
“Having other women who validate your experiences and who can be there and support you, it is easier to speak up in those meetings when you know there is somebody else there who has your back,” O’Donnell said. “It's so refreshing to know that somebody else understood what I was going through.”