CARHA Hockey recently posted a story titled "The Challenges of Playing Hockey as a Woman", using the following list of challenges that females have to overcome in this sport:
- Substantially less pay for players at the professional level, but also for refereees, coaches, and executives. Many players playing in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) or National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) have to have another job on the side simply to survive.
- Less opportunity across the board, starting with less teams at the professional level, no semi-professional leagues that are playing players, no current female coaches or referees being employed in the National Hockey League (NHL), plus less teams, leagues, tournaments, and camps for young girls to get involved in.
- If a woman playing professional hockey decides she is ready to start a family, she has to sacrifice her career and step away for well over a year as a result of the pregnancy, while her male counterpart carries on as usual.
- Females have far less representation at decision-making tables in hockey in general, meaning their voices aren't as heard and their game is far less impacted.
- Women are far too objectified, even in 2019. How often do you hear fans or even commentators talk about how attractive a female hockey player is, rather than how talented she is?
- Menstruation can bring side effects such as fatigue, nausea, pain, and depression and more, but female athletes have to fight all of this and keep practicing and participating.
- With the severe difference in pay also comes a very troubling situation after retirement from professional play. While male players have often made enough money to coast for the remainder of their life, or at least have time to transition into something else from the money they made, the women were only making enough to survive while they were actually playing, and suddenly have to find something else immediately after retirement.
However, it's not all obstacles and challenges for women in this sport, and we want to also spend time celebrating the growing list of opportunity for women.
Seemingly every single day, new camps, leagues, tournaments and teams are popping up in women's hockey not only just across Canada, but also North America and even Internationally.
The game may be showing signs of struggling at the professional level with the folding of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), but this is just an opportunity for women's hockey to operate under one league with the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), meaning more financial support, resources, sponsorships and fans.
The skill at the professional level continues to rise all around the world. Team Canada spent several years training with the women's national team in Finland, who just recently upset Team Canada at the Women's World Hockey Championships last week. It was a tough pill to swallow, but ultimately means the game is trending in the right direction, and more competition is never a bad thing for growth.
Lastly, there are many leaders that continue to push for more women in the areas of coaching, refereeing, executive roles, broadcast roles, and more. We aren't yet where we need to be, but are inching closer and closer every day.
Opportunity is growing, and a more equal future for women in hockey is on the horizon.