Brandi Chastain talks to LatinX contributor Jen Elena about how sports can prep women for business and the fight for equal pay in US Women’s Soccer.
I’ve had the thrill of meeting a childhood hero of mine, Brandi Chastain, on a couple of occasions. She’s fierce and fair. Today she is being honored at the Rose Bowl with a statue of one of the most iconic moments in American sports history. But her athletic success offers just a glimpse of her contributions and commitment to women.
We connected last night as she was getting off the plane in lieu of the event and she offered me and all women in business some helpful advice:
Q. What’s your advice to young women getting started in business today?
BC: Resiliency, vulnerability, and grit. These traits are your allies. You must have these three tools for your own personal growth and development. Resiliency and vulnerability: Employers need and want more women who see the big picture. But they also value these skills when dealing with others, both one-on-one and in groups of any size. Doing all this successfully can be like walking through a minefield. You won’t always have the perfect answer or make the perfect move, so being vulnerable to do what you think is your best, and then being resilient enough to get up if you fall down, is essential. Grit…follow your own North Star. Don’t try to be someone else, just be your true authentic self.
Q. Participating in sports not only teaches you to be vulnerable, resilient, and gritty, but also makes you internalize those qualities so they become part of who you are. As a former soccer player and now an executive in the tech field, I’ve seen the life lessons from soccer shape me. How can sports help young girls prepare for a future in business?
BC: Sports are critical for all people, but especially for women, because men grow up in a sporting culture where they learn the necessary life skills for corporate success and acceptance into the ‘good old boys’ club: organizational skills, communication, problem solving, competition, character building, leadership, and grit, to name just a few.
These are things boys/men had in abundance and women weren’t privileged to experience. Now, it’s not just one gender that benefits from the life lessons of sports. Employers have opened up their hiring candidates—regardless of gender—whomever has experience with team sports will have an advantage over a candidate who doesn’t. Why? Not only because of the skills learned from playing sports, but also because sports provide a common ground for employer and employee to share.
Q. Although I’m pumped to see the strides that generations of women have made, there is so much more to do, especially in our communities of color. Do you think there is a gap in U.S. Soccer today?
BC: I think there is a gap for us, U.S. Soccer, in terms of Latina girls and women playing in our program. Why is it that a girl that played pick up soccer all her life, because she lived in a small farming community in Idaho, with parents who are migrant farm workers, can’t get into the U.S. Soccer Youth National Team, but can with Mexico? Drives me crazy.