Last week, the Arizona Cardinals football team made history when it hired Jen Welter to be a pre-season linebackers coach, the first woman coach in the NFL. Welter has since downplayed the significance of her hiring, reportedly saying in an interview that despite what expectations may be set, she just wants “little girls to grow up knowing that when they put their mind to something, when they work hard, that they can do anything.” However, for the NFL, Welter’s hiring is the latest in a string of moves that appear to be aimed at improving its reputation with a growing base of women fans. Just three months ago, the league hired its first full-time referee, 41-year-old Sarah Thomas, who begins this season. Behind the scenes, the league has also reportedly hired women for an array of influential positions like chief lobbyist, chief marketing officer and domestic violence adviser. The shift mirrors a shift in the NFL’s fanbase, which is now 45 percent female, a sharp increase in recent years.
Read the full story at The New York Times.