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Breakthrough Series panel inspires attendees

Workplace challenges discussed as part of weekend softball camp
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- As part of the Softball Breakthrough Series, a panel of four women from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization discussed the challenges they've faced on the job and how gender has played a role.

The series, hosted by Major League Baseball and USA Softball and held at MLB's Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., is a program with a diverse group of 60 high school softball players from 18 states and Puerto Rico who came together for five days to take part in a special developmental camp, one that also served as a showcase for collegiate recruiters.

LOS ANGELES -- As part of the Softball Breakthrough Series, a panel of four women from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization discussed the challenges they've faced on the job and how gender has played a role.

The series, hosted by Major League Baseball and USA Softball and held at MLB's Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., is a program with a diverse group of 60 high school softball players from 18 states and Puerto Rico who came together for five days to take part in a special developmental camp, one that also served as a showcase for collegiate recruiters.

Saturday's panel at Dodger Stadium was part of a program that allowed the high school players to take the field before the Dodgers' game against the Padres, while two coaches, Kelsey Stewart and Michelle Moultrie, threw out the honorary first pitch.

"There are so many women that helped me along my path, I'm not going to lie and say that I did it on my own," said Lauren Douglas, public relations coordinator for the Dodgers and one of the panelists. "So any time that I can get out there and help other women that have been in the shoes that I used to be in -- these girls are getting ready to go to college, they're young athletes, I've been there. Any time I can help out, that's a great feeling."

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During the panel, Douglas stressed the importance of being confident, especially as a woman in a male-dominated field, and also gave some tips to the high schoolers about how to deal with imposter syndrome -- a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments or worthiness.

"You gotta know, whenever you're somewhere, you're there for a reason," Douglas said. "I got hired for a reason. When you go to college, you're going to be chosen to be on a team for a reason. And that's something that I had to keep telling myself."

"And then I'm sure that gender does play a role in my position because I am the only woman in my department and the team on the field is only men," Douglas added. "So you definitely have to be very confident in yourself. If you come across like you don't know what you're talking about, people will believe that about yourself and think less of you. So confidence is a huge thing when you're a woman in a male-dominated field. That's something that I've seen almost every day."

To 15-year-old Brenna Ponce of El Paso, Texas, the panel was especially illuminating because of its stress on gender issues in the workplace.

"It's different being a woman in the working field and it really spoke to me because my mom -- she's very hard-working; she inspires me -- she's always telling me you need to always work hard because sometimes men have that dominance in the working field so [the panel] were telling us how to be confident and hard-worker, and how to live life as a woman," Ponce said.

Douglas' messages of perseverance also stuck with 18-year-old Jaydn Clark of Florida.

"That sticks with me the most because I am a softball player and it's the only sport where you can fail half the time and still be successful," Clark said. "And sometimes I get real down on myself, but just because things aren't going well at the moment doesn't mean the next at-bat or next play something great might not happen."

Other panelists included Megan Schroeder, the Dodgers' manager of research and development; Kaitlin Radcliff, account executive for group sales; and Erica Sanchez, community relations coordinator. They touched on topics such as how to overcome insecurities, their path into working in baseball and the importance of education, while also discussing lighter topics such as which historical figure they would want to be and what one thing makes them happiest.

To Kamila Ayala-Lopez, a 14-year-old from Reading, Penn., the panel's discussions on gender and the issues that arise with being a woman in the workplace will help guide her future the most.

"It was very interesting to hear their stories," said Ayala-Lopez. "Just because you're a woman doesn't mean you can't do whatever you want in life."

Avery Yang is a reporter for MLB.com.