MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Female football fans are a powerful force in the NFL. The league knows it and says it’s working hard to bring more women into its organization.
This morning, female leaders in broadcasting, marketing and the NFL held a summit to share their stories with young women hoping to break into the still male-dominated field.
Eleven years ago, Anne Doepner started as a Vikings executive assistant.
“You don’t need to play football to understand the collective bargaining agreement,” she said. “I learned to ask a lot of questions.”
She’s now their director of football administration.
“Not that there’s any animosity there, it’s just an education component,” she said. “Getting them used to hearing a woman’s voice on the other end of the line and not assuming I’m someone’s assistant.”
She joined female NFL COOs and CIOs Friday to talk to students like Kaitlynn Solomon, a senior at the University of Minnesota.
“To hear from women who started off just like you,” she said, “I’m speechless, just thinking about it. These women here have inspired me greatly.”
The NFL estimates women make up 45 percent of its fan base, but serve in 36 percent of the teams’ administrative positions and only 20 percent of the teams’ leadership positions.
Vikings COO Kevin Warren says he wants to see female head coaches and general managers one day. Right now, 40 percent of the Vikings’ vice presidents are women.
“The numbers are continually growing, but we can always do better,” he said. “You make it a point, you make it an agenda item, part of your dna and how your structured.”
They’re hoping they show other women that it can be done.
“If you empower women on staff, then that’s going to teach everyone else to respect women — not the typical roles they’re always in, but as equals and teams players like everyone,” Doepner said.
Within the Vikings organization, women hold four of the 10 vice president positions. They’re the chief of staff and heads of finance, legal and human resources and partner activations.