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Jill Ellis Deals with some Gender Issues at Media Day Press Conference

Head coach Jill Ellis handled questions during Media Day.

Head Coach Jill Ellis. (Photo Credit: Catalina Fragoso - DoubleGSports)

Head Coach Jill Ellis. (Photo Credit: Catalina Fragoso – DoubleGSports)


Navigating questions about FIFA corruption charges, Abby Wambach’s last World Cup, the USA’s inability to win the World Cup despite international success, among others, there was one question that stood out at yesterday’s US Women’s Soccer Media Day.

Coach Ellis was asked about players being injured and missing time and “dealing” with a player stating that she wanted to have a baby – essentially equating that situation to an injury.

Ellis handled the question with aplomb when she stated ” [it’s] not an injury” and then went on to state quite predictably, that of course, she would be very supportive etc. etc.

The question brought to mind that as much as women’s sports has risen in the past few decades, there are still gender biases that are deeply inbred within the societal structure.

In fact, as I write this, I am having cognitive dissonance about whether bringing this to light hinders or highlights the issue.

In an interview for Fast Company, Amy Poehler of television fame appears in the June issue, Poehler rails on male Hollywood executives saying:

“I have these meetings with really powerful men and they ask me all the time, ‘Where are your kids? Are your kids here?’ ” the mother of two told the magazine. “It’s such a weird question. Never in a million years do I ask guys where their kids are. It would be comparable to me going to a guy, ‘Do you feel like you see your kids enough?’ ”

Poehler still sees the hidden agenda and traditional gender roles.

One couldn’t help but notice all the players had their hair and makeup done prior to the event – not something men in similar situations would have to deal with.

Why was it important for them to “look good” –  aren’t we celebrating them as America’s team, and worried about questions like ‘can they win the World Cup?’

Shouldn’t Hollywood Executives be concerned about Poehler’s ability to act and if she is the right fit for the given role and not her kids?

And as for Jill Ellis, she needs to focus on her 23 footballers and prepare for the World Cup – Yes, footballers or soccer players, not “these ladies” or “these women” and yes, the World Cup not the Women’s World Cup.

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