Nontraditional Careers For Women – Female Jockeys Gaining Ground

The first thing I can remember wanting to be when I grew up was a jockey. Well, that obviously didn't happen, but I do wish there was a "fantasy jockey" camp, similar to what they have for baseball – I'd be the first to sign up!

Being a jockey was a nontraditional career for a woman when I was a kid, and it still is today. About 10% of professional thoroughbred jockeys are women; the Department of Labor defines a nontraditional field for women as one in which 25% or less of those employed are female.

As in other male-dominated fields, the women who pioneered in racing faced many challenges. The first woman jockey to ride in a pari-mutuel race was Diane Crump, in February 1969 at Hialeah, but she wasn't the first to try. When Penny Ann Early attempted to enter three races at Churchill Downs in 1968, she was prevented from riding because the other jockeys boycotted the races. Barbara Jo Rubin faced not only boycotts, but a bricks thrown through her trailer window, when she entered a race at Tropical Park in January of 1969. However, Rubin did become the first female jockey to win a race on February 22 of that year when she won at Charles Town. Rubin was forced to retire about a year later due to injuries; However in her brief career of 89 races she won 22 times and was in the money 20 more times. Diane Crump made history again in 1970 when she became the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby. She won over 230 races before she retired in 1985.

Although the number of women jockeys is still quite low, they race in a very different environment than the pioneering women jockeys did. The first women jockeys faced the prejudice and hostility of their male colleagues, who did not want women racing against them. The men would sometimes cut them off or commit other violations, which were ignored by the race officials. They would even slash them with their whips! (The irony of this is that one of the concerns of the male riders was that they felt racing was too dangerous and the women would get hurt!)

Diane Crump was invited to compete in a match race in Puerto Rico. The male jockey riding against her did everything he possibly could to unseat her from her mount, including grabbing her saddle cloth, knocking her foot from the stirrup, and grabbing her reins. Crump fought back by cracking him on the head with her whip, but he wound up winning the race by a length. However, the women in the crowd cheered Diane and cursed and threw rotten tomatoes at the male jockey!

The early women jockeys also faced opposition from the jockeys' wives, who were uncomfortable that the women would see their men in various states of undress, even though dressing quarters were separate. As a matter of fact, there were no women's dressing quarters – …

Non-Traditional Occupations For Women – Cracking the Glass Ceiling at Corporations

The glass ceiling is a term that has come to mean a barrier to women's advancement in the workplace. Believe it or not, this term celebrates its 30th birthday this year! The term was originated by diversity consultant Marilyn Loden in a 1978 presentation to the Women's Action Alliance Conference, to "describe the invisible barriers to advancement that many women managers still face." Thirty years later women are still bumping their heads on the glass ceiling, whether they are trying to rise through the management ranks, or gain a foothold in blue collar professions.

One may argue that Sarah Palin being nominated as the vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket with John McCain is evidence that the glass ceiling is cracking. But she is the first woman candidate on a national ticket since Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale's vice presidential partner in 1984. There has yet to be a woman on the ballot for the job of President of the United States, although Hillary Clinton made a historic run at the position this year. And though women have not yet attained the highest political post in the United States, they have made some inroads into the top positions in the corporate world.

According to Fortune magazine, the number of women CEOs in the FORTUNE 1000 has increased from 19 in 2005 to 24 in 2008. However, that's still only 2.4% of the top corporate posts being held by women. An extensive study (of 10,000 high ranking executives in nearly 1000 companies) published by researchers from the Tuck School of Business and Loyola University, recognized that the number of women CEOs will not likely significantly increase until at least 2016, based on the number of women Currently in the upper-executive pipeline. The researchers found that in 48% of the largest US firms, there were no women in senior positions, and that women comprised only a token presence in many of the other firms. The researchers project that the percentage of CEO spots held by women will increase from the 2000 level of 1.7% to 4.9% in 2010 and 6.2% in 2016.

If those projections hold, the number of women leading major corporations will still be quite low even in another eight years! So you may be thinking, what does having women in top leadership positions mean and why is it important?

In her book "The Female Advantage," author Sally Helgesen describes the changes in the corporate world as we've moved from an industrial age to a technological age, and states that women are particularly well-suited to the type of corporate hierarchy needed for the fast-moving technological age. She describes this more modern type of hierarchy as a "web of inclusion," as opposed to the older authoritarian top-down chain of command.

Picture a web, with the leader at the center, reaching out to all via this "web of inclusion." In a web hierarchy, the leader can create a more democratic and empowered organization that communicates more quickly and functions more effectively, …