Where Are The Female Referees?
Posted 01/21/2022 02:19PM

by: Evie Zahner

Where are all the female referees? This is a question I started thinking about this past weekend when I attended an NHL Islanders game. As I was thinking about it, I realized that I have not seen any female refs in any pro sports, even women's sports. The last time I saw one was Sarah Thomas, who was an official in the Super Bowl last year. Sports have always been dominated by men, and this is just another area of the sports industry men have a strong hold on.
According to a study done in 2021, out of over 8,794 professional referees in the United States, 24.5% of them are women. As I got to thinking about this, I wondered why women were not being hired as referees. Professional referees all go through the same training process to become certified, they all have to gain the same experience in their respective sports, and they are all outsourced to games through the Professional Referee Organization. So how come only men are being sent to games that we most often see? Sports has always been a difficult field to infiltrate for women in all aspects. Even as a high school athlete I don't see that many female referees. Why is the role of officiating so hard for women to obtain?

It's possible that there is the consideration of public opinion that inhibits women from being sent to games. Perhaps the pro sports leagues are concerned that coaches, players, and the general public who come to watch these games will not respect or understand the calls made by a female official as opposed to a male official. However, that opinion will never change if women are not given these roles. Maybe the low percentage of women in refereeing is due to lack of interest in the field, lack of resources, or a number of different reasons. However, I think the most blatant reason is just that it is hard for women to gain enough respect in the sports field to be given these opportunities to officiate professional sports.

Women are always overlooked in professional sports, and refereeing is no exception. This kind of representation matters more than one might think, and I think women should be given the same amount of respect and opportunities that a man would get when it comes to refereeing professional sports.

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WiNK (“Wooster Ink”) is Wooster School’s online student news publication. WiNK serves as the student voice of our community, and provides readers with a weekly overview of what's happening in our students' lives, and it gives students a chance to share their interests and voices. The majority of the content is developed in our Upper School Journalism classes, but we also accept contributions from other students and faculty members.

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