Female university athletic trainers may have a renewed hope for breaking into professional sports after the LA Dodgers’ recent hire of a female athletic trainer as head physical therapist, Kelley Henderson, director of the athletic training education program, said.
“I have at least one or two female students who come in every year that want to work in professional baseball,” she said.
In the past, female athletic training students could only hope to embark on a career in professional sports, but with the hire of Sue Falsone, this dream is now attainable for women in the athletic training profession, Henderson said. Falsone is the first woman to hold the head athletic trainer position in Major League Baseball history.
Previously, gender stratification made it hard for women to get involved in athletic training, she said. On the professional level, male-dominated sports teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers have had female athletic trainers. Leagues such as the WNBA have some as well, Henderson said.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) did not accept its first female member until 1966, even though the organization had been around since the 1950s, Henderson said. NATA is the organization by which trainers become professionals, but it did not accept its first female president until 2000.
Louis Duran, a senior athletic training major, said he was surprised that it took so long to hire a female trainer as head physical therapist.
“To me an athletic trainer is an athletic trainer regardless of their gender, so it’s amazing to me that something like this has become a news piece, even though I see why it is a news piece,” Duran said.
Falsone’s hiring is only the beginning of female emergence in professional sports, he said.
As of the 2011 school year, 37 students were enrolled in TCU’s Athletic Training program, Henderson said. Of these 37, 24 are female.
During the early 2000s, Henderson said the female-to-male ratio in athletic training has shifted on a national scale.
Jessica Markbreiter, a junior athletic trainer, said Falsone has a great opportunity to disprove the standard gender stratification. Falsone can show that women have the capacity to work with the same ethic of a male counterpart, she said.
“Even though we are females, we can still do as much as males can as far as all the roles the athletic trainer has to do,” Markbreiter said.
She said she hopes Falsone’s presence will open more opportunities for females within the profession.
Sports are considered a male domain, and bias toward males is something that students have to consider in looking for a career in athletic training, Markbreiter said.
Markbreiter said she hopes Falsone will be able to help eliminate the gender bias within sports.