As the father of two school-age daughters, Hasseltine couldn’t be happier to see the change, particularly in his field of sports tourism. “It’s not whether you’re male or female; it’s hard work, determination and drive,” says the veteran who has worked for NCAA and NAIA, the National Association of Sports Commissions and the sports commissions of Louisville and Maryland. “If you put all that together with meeting the right people, you’re going to be successful. A decade or more ago there was probably not the mindset that everybody can do anything.” Hasseltine discussed the rise of women in the industry with Connect Sports.
How would you describe the ascent of women in this industry?
You’re dealing with several generations now of women who have been exposed to opportunities that didn’t exist 50 years ago. Doors have opened; barriers have been cut down. The presentation of opportunities has come from Title IX and other initiatives, which have empowered women to lead—and not only in sports tourism. Women are linked into more than women’s sports. Look at the media now. Look at ESPN. You’re seeing broadcasters and newscasters; you’re seeing sideline reporters, for both men’s and women’s sports; you’re seeing female officials now in the NFL.
How do you see this new gender landscape day to day?
The conversation has changed on how we can go from point A to point B. Those roads have become quicker because now there’s a full engagement of conversation. You can draw a straighter line because your engagement starts from the word go. There’s no zigzagging to make sure you only touch certain subsets of folks. [Women] are creative and smart, and they bring a level of knowledge and experience that we in this industry should want to absorb and take in.
I appreciate the contributions and the interaction, and I feel fortunate now that we live and work in a society where I can have a full engagement regardless of race or gender. We’ve broken through, almost to the point that we’re not going to have to write about this anymore.
How do women contribute differently than men?
There’s a sensitivity in the direction you take a topic. I don’t want to use the word maternal, but men are sometimes like, “Ugh, let’s just hammer through it,” and women have the ability to sit back, reflect and talk about a softer approach. We are, to some degree, wired differently.
Given the societal atmosphere today’s women grew up in, is their path to acceptance easier than it was for generations before?
Millennials are more understanding of the job market, the equality of the space and the importance of working in concert. I think where you see a little bit of discrepancy is when the older guard—who still have a little bit of [discrimination] in their DNA—think men are supposed to do this, and women are supposed to do this. That generation is starting to shift out of the workforce.
Is there anything needed to help level the playing field further?
The solutions are time, education and access to resources. That’s what we have now making everybody play on the same stage. Knowledge is king and queen, and those who access it and those who utilize it to strengthen their position are going to end up on top of the pedestal. That’s not a gender thing, that’s a work ethic thing.