The ESPN Women + Sports Summit and the Global Ascendancy of Females

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Eco Chick was invited by Lexus to attend the ESPN Women + Sports Summit at the Dove Mountain Ritz Carlton in Tucson, Arizona this past October. The Summit brought together influencers and leaders in the world of women and sports, and it was an unforgettable experience. I met so many inspirational women, heard so many powerful stories, had the opportunity to test drive the new Lexus ES (in “eco drive”) and took away so much in a matter of three days. I found the discussions on business and marketing of women and sports, the impact of Title IX, and the importance of getting young girls to participate in sports most interesting.

I really connected to the summit because sports have played such a critical role in my life. I owe so much of who I am today to the lessons I learned on fields, tracks, courts and stages.

I started playing soccer at the age of four, and played basketball, soccer and ran track throughout my childhood right up to Varsity level in high school. I was the only girl on the men’s varsity golf team my senior year of high school, and refused to tee off at the women’s tee (I wasn’t interested in a hand-out from the men.) I was also a competitive Irish dancer for 12 years and would head to dance class right after my sports practices every week night. On the weekends, I had to strike a balance between sports games and feises (Irish dance competitions which required significant travel).

When I wasn’t playing team sports or dancing, I was strapping on gear for street hockey or playing touch football with the boys in the neighborhood. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I’d come home with bruises, scrapes and torn pants from climbing trees and jumping fences. I enjoyed challenging my guy friends — and my father– to impromptu races, and for years my Dad and I would race to the car after my soccer games. It was our little thing. He beat me for quite a while until that one day when I was faster than him and started beating him.

Sports taught me discipline, hard work, and what it meant to be a team player. It fostered self-confidence, a respect for myself, and it made me really competitive. I learned how to persevere, lead, come back after defeat, and how to swallow my pride and accept criticism and feedback.

At the ESPN Summit, I had time to reflect on, and be grateful for, how sports have shaped my life in such a profound way. I also took in a wealth of knowledge from some extraordinary women.

Faith Popcorn, a well-known predictor of future trends, opened the conference with bold predictions on how women will exert their influence and power to shape the future. Faith believes that the new feminine energy fueled by money, power and compassion will shape the decade ahead. Faith referred to this global ascendancy of women as “she-change”: something that’s happening under our culture. Faith talked quite a bit about how marketers are advertising to an outdated idea of the woman, and a “nuclear family” that isn’t the force it once was.

Throughout Faith’s presentation she’d often say “numbers don’t lie.” Here are interesting stats and takeaways from Faith’s presentation on this “rEVEolution”:

  • The UN General Assembly’s Sixty-Seventh session opened with the first woman President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. She said “I speak to you with a feminine voice. It’s the voice of democracy, of equality. In Portugese, words such as life, soul hope are of the feminine gender, as are courage and sincerity.”
  • Women in politics leading around the world. Hillary Clinton, 67th United States Secretary of State; Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica; Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica; Dilma Rousseff, President Brazil; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, President of the Confederation, Switzerland; Atifete Jahjaga, President Kosovo; Pratibha Devisingh Patil, former President, India; Maria Luisa Berti, Captain Regent, San Marino.
  • 40 percent of U.S. citizens say marriage is becoming obsolete
  • 47 percent of U.S. adults are single
  • Only 23 percent of households have a mom, dad and children under a roof
  • There’s an emerging domestic dad: 1 in 5 fathers are the primary caregivers; tripling in the last 10 years
  • 1/3 of women in Asia are not marrying (because they do not want to be stuck at home)
  • 51 percent of children born to millenials are outside of marriage
  • 40 percent of children are now born to unwed mothers
  • 140 percent growth among college educated women
  • The percent of women between the ages of 30-34 without children has doubled since 1976
  • 80 percent of job losses and 60 percent of job losses in Europe were sustained by men
  • Women now comprise 47 percent of the workforce
  • 4 in 10 mothers are the primary breadwinners
  • Women buy 60 percent of the new cars in the United States (hence Lexus’ sponsorship of the summit!)
  • 53 percent of smartphones are bought by women
  • 60 percent of University graduates in the U.S. are female
  • Women are regularly outscouring men on I.Q. tests
  • Women are the largest emerging economy
  • Female CEOs outperformed male CEOs by 28 percent
  • Boards with the highest percentage of females make more money: Return on equity, 53 percent higher; Return on sales, 42 percent higher; and return on invested capital, 66 percent higher
  • 40 percent of sports fans (NFL, MLB, NASCAR) are female
  • Women took home 55 percent of the Gold medals at the past Olympics

And yet, most brands fail to recognize women’s power. “Women are the best evangelists in the whole wide world,” said Faith.

  • 60 percent of women say marketers don’t support her
  • 73 percent say advertisers don’t “get her”
And just to illustrate the importance of women empowering each other, I thought it was no small irony that Faith Popcorn was in fact a mentor and boss to a former mentor and boss of mine.

Photos from the summit.

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I had the opportunity to test drive the sustainable and sleek Lexus ES. Lexus was the presenting sponsor of the Summit.

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The new Lexus ES Hybrid. Check out the sustainable bamboo interior and the Nu-Luxe seat upholstery — a leather-like material that weighs half as much as leather and generates far fewer CO2 and VOC emissions than other synthetic leather.

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Putting the new Lexus ES Hybrid in “eco mode.” Check out the free Lexus ES app for iPad from iTunes.

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ESPN’s Sage Steele.

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Gabrielle Reece and Sheryl Swoopes.

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ESPN had an incredible gifting suite as you can see. Thanks to Under Armour and Lululemon.

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I sat next to Chef Michelle Bernstein for lunch one day!

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The Ritz Carlton at Dove Mountain.

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Hiking in my new Under Armour gear.

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ESPN’s Hannah Storm and I.

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Carmelita Jeter and I.

ESPN Women + Sports Summit: sage steele and lindsay e. brown

ESPN’s Sage Steele and I.

About Lindsay E. Brown
Lindsay is the Director of Communications at CBS EcoMedia and is a co-owner of Eco-Chick along with Starre Vartan. Previously, she was the managing editor at Eco-Chick, and created the acclaimed interview series “Heroines for the Planet." She has written for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine, Edible, Cottages & Gardens, Huffington Post, EarthHour.org, Livia Firth's Eco-Age.com, Ecover US, Laura Turner Seydel's blog, and Gather Green. Lindsay was featured on the Veria Living Network as a “voice for the planet’s health” and was named in Ecover’s “30 Under 30″ contest which recognized those who are making a sustainable difference in their local or global communities. Lindsay holds a B.S. in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award for Top Student in RW1 at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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