A hockey league in Atlantic Canada is on a hiring spree to bring more women into the operations side of the game.
“These opportunities should be there no matter whether you’re a man or a woman,” said Troy Dumville, president of the Maritime Junior Hockey League. “That’s our goal, to create those chances.”
On Friday the league announced it’s trying to recruit women into ten open positions in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I., mostly as assistant coaches and talent scouts.
The jobs come with small salaries.
But Dumville says they are a crucial stepping stone toward full-time employment in hockey operations, an area traditionally dominated by men.
Importance of support
Dumville says the new hires will attend monthly online lectures delivered by a group of experts he’s recruited to advise and encourage them.
Among those experts is Cheryl MacDonald, a professor at Saint Mary’s University’s Centre for Sport and Health.
She’s studied masculinity in hockey for over a decade.
“Making sure that they are supported throughout their experience is what’s really special about this program,” MacDonald said.
She says there are gender differences around how women experience hockey culture, which can affect how they integrate into new roles on a team.
“A lot of women don’t grow up with hockey the same way that boys and men have,” MacDonald said. “They don’t come quite as naturally to the environment and they don’t always have the same inherent knowledge.”
Dumville says there are more opportunities in hockey operations for women who succeed at the highest levels of the sport, such as former players for Team Canada.
But he wants to hire more women who are passionate for the game, but like him, didn’t have an elite hockey career.
Dumville says since Friday he’s already heard from about 20 women interested in the positions.
He says on paper there are enough qualified candidates to fill more than half of the 10 open positions.
The Maritime Junior Hockey League comprises 12 teams, with roughly 250 male players between the ages of 16 and 20.
Dumville says they are more open to women in leadership roles than previous generations of men in the sport.
“They want to learn, they want to grow,” he said. “They don’t really care if you’re a man or a woman as long as you’re providing them with their development and working with them.”
Dumville believes this initiative is the first of its kind in Canada.
He hopes it will inspire other leagues to bring more women into their organizations.
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