Against the Odds of Tradition: Nudging the Glass Ceiling of Sport Management and Leadership

Olivia Thornton, Naroa Etxebarria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
200 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to capture the journey of the first female leader in sports management in her country in the south-east Asian region for their National Sport and the values and behaviors enabling her to achieve it. Design: The study uses a mixed-methods case study design, quantitative and qualitative outcome measures, to assess the career progression of the first female executive director of a national sporting organization in her country, namely BWN and her involvement in a 2-week intensive sports management, leadership and development program. Findings: A professional and courageous approach to identify and implement honest and evidence-based solutions were key for BWN’s success. BWN complemented professionalism with soft skills, clear communication and outcome-based approach to challenging situations, successfully influencing change within her national sporting organization. This female leader is an inspiring role model for other women and her professionalism her most influential value driving innovation in sports management and organizational change. The positive impact she had in her community highlights the significant contributions female leaders can have within the sports leadership context, given the opportunity and scope to do so. Originality: For the first time in her country, the unsolicited and unprecedented evidence-based approach, professionalism and proactivity assisted BWN with her colleagues accepting her as the first woman on the executive board of her national sporting body of one of the most celebrated national sports. Breaking the mold with unexpected (positive) behavior might be the secret to further breakthroughs for women in sports management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-604
Number of pages14
JournalGender in Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2021


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