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Rules of the Game– Understanding the Experiences of Latina Executives in the Professional Sports Industry in the U.S.: An Exploratory Qualitative Study Open Access

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As compared to White women, Latinas working in male-dominated industries and organizations in the U.S. encounter unique workplace experiences. Latinas’ uniqueness stems from their multi-dimensional, wide-ranging cultures created by geographic, racial, social, economic and national backgrounds, Spanish language dialects, and bicultural experiences as they navigate their native and U.S. cultures (Jamieson, 2003; Waterston, 2006). The values and practices of male-dominated organizational cultures in the U.S. often differ from these aspects, consequently creating different experiences for Latinas who work in these organizations as compared to males (Oliva, Rodriguez, Alanis, & Cerecer, 2013). However, the influence of Latinas’ unique culture in navigating these contexts has not received attention in research particularly in the professional sports industry. This industry, one of the largest, most lucrative (Swanson & Kent, 2014) and male-dominated industries in the U.S. (Corbett, 2001), remains shy of its touted goals to provide inclusive, merit-based opportunities for employees including minority women (O’Connor-McDonogh, 2010). Without an understanding of the multiple, interacting dimensions of Latinas’ lives that shape their workplace experiences in this industry, their potential to make contributions and ascend into leadership may remain neglected. As the fastest growing minority women’s population and workforce group in the U.S. (U.S. Department of Labor, 2014), Latinas’ work experiences in male-dominated contexts can no longer be examined solely from the lens of gender to fully understand their experiences. This basic interpretive study examines this issue guided by the research question, “How do Latina executives describe their experiences working in the male-dominated professional sports industry in the U.S.?” Through the lens of organizational culture (Hatch, 1993, 2004; Schein, 1983, 2010) and Holvino’s (2005) simultaneity framework of intersectionality, this study illuminates how Latina executives experience working in the professional sports industry in the U.S. at individual, organizational, and societal levels. Five themes emerged through a thematic analysis to understand participants’ experiences–“It’s a man’s world,” “Student of the business and game,” “Practicing balance,” “A lifestyle choice,” and “A career milestone.” Evidence-based conclusions and recommendations are presented to help Latina and future minority female executives, and professional sport organizations succeed in one of the largest, most profitable industries in the U.S.

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