There is plenty of room for women in baseball.
That message was clear on Thursday night, as the Twins celebrated the diversity within their organization by continuing their series of important conversations with an online roundtable discussion highlighting the experiences and contributions of women in baseball operations.
The panelists included senior manager of international administration and education Amanda Daley, assistant strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hayden, player development analyst Rachel Heacock, amateur scouting coordinator Brit Minder and director of baseball administration Kate Townley. Dr. Jaimie Rubin, who provides sport psychology services at Premier Sport Psychology in the Twin Cities, moderated the event, one that followed a July discussion highlighting Black members of the Twins' front office.
The night began with an acknowledgement from Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey of the broad reach of the women across the organization’s baseball operations department. Then the discussion turned to the significance of the hurdles that the panelists have overcome, the lack of representation of racially diverse women and the hope they have to further diversify future panels. A strong message of strength, perseverance and continuing growth was delivered.
“We can’t talk about where we want to go without talking about how we got where we are,” Daley said. “When I joined the Twins, Kate was the only female in our baseball operations department and basically it was a 2 to 90 ratio, if we had our organizational meetings there were two of us in a room with scouts, player development, Major League staff, Minor League staff, and our front office team. ... The ratio isn’t quite where we want it to be yet, [but] it helps us to see that we have grown and it shows us that we still do need to grow.”
Added Townley: “There isn’t a woman of color on our panel and that’s because we don’t have a woman of color on our baseball operations side to choose from, which is an area of growth. … We started to slowly build that out and it’s hugely important as we continue to move forward and it’s part of our responsibility to continue to build out that representation. And not just from an entry level position, not just from middle management, but more specifically to try to start getting women with more leadership representation.”
Beyond talking about the changing landscape of the game and the hope each panelist has for baseball, the women delved into a few of the challenges they’ve faced specifically based on the perceptions of others. Minder recalled a series of instances when she received gifts to acknowledge annual days celebrating secretaries, while Heacock was asked to perform menial tasks like getting coffee while on business trips to affiliates, both women falling into a stereotypical category among their counterparts presumably based on gender.
While Hayden addressed the on-field obstacles of occasionally having difficulty finding a bathroom or a locker room space, or working with the fit of men’s clothing, she also noted that she aims not to get hung up on the challenges because of the positive direction she believes the game is headed.
“It’s going to get better, so I don’t have to worry about that part,” Hayden said. “But I think how we carry ourselves as women is really, really important. I always encourage other [women who] work in what we call a male-dominated space or industry, I would ask them to reframe their terminology. Instead of dominant, which means overpowering and commanding and superior, to change it to a male majority, meaning that there’s just more of them than me. I’m just outnumbered.”
While that sentiment was appreciated among the group, it is also worth bearing in mind that it shouldn’t always be the women who have to shift their thinking. And after discussing advocacy, allyship, some of the initiatives the Twins are working toward and much more, Townley acknowledged that she needed to change her train of thought in an entirely different way.
“For a lot of time in my career, or at least in the early part of my career, I felt like I needed to be one of the guys,” Townley said. “I’ve said that. I’ve even gone on panels and talked about it, and I will admit to my faults there. I have come to realize that in doing so I have minimized myself and not used the strength of being a female as part of my tools. It’s super important to realize that there is a place for females in male industries, in professional sports. Don’t minimize yourself. Don’t minimize the fact that you’re a woman. Don’t minimize being emotional or whatever tagline that might get used against you because you’re a female. That’s important, and our industry needs it and it offers a perspective that our players need, our staff needs and our community needs.”