CEO Danette Leighton Unfolds Sport’s Transforming Potential

Sport is featuring a series of essays from accomplished women in a range of professions as part of the US Open’s celebration of 50 years of equal prize money for men and women. Each essay offers a personal perspective on the significance of equality as well as unique insights into the challenges each author has faced in her career journey. Danette Leighton, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation, discusses the difficulties she has encountered and the lessons she has learnt throughout her career of promoting and recognising the strength of women’s sports.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

How true, but many “places” still fall short of being as inclusive as they could be.

In my 30 years working in the sports industry’s business sector, I haven’t always noticed that women are given equal opportunities to contribute, be heard, and have an impact on decisions. I understood that in order to break new ground in a largely male-dominated field like sports, it would be imperative for me to work and adhere to my ideals and principles—that fair and equal opportunity for all is important.

My passion for sports, especially women’s sports, has grown over the course of my life, and numerous turning points have also made me more aware of the obstacles that still prevent genuine equity on and off the playing field.

My passion and desire to move the ball for everyone, at every level of the game, has grown with each passing second.

My dream work as the CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) has taken me from serving both men’s and women’s professional and collegiate sports leagues and teams. In addition to having the privilege of continuing the legacy of Billie Jean King, the legendary founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation, I also have the chance to direct the Foundation’s efforts to increase access to and opportunities for all girls and women who want to participate in sports so they can play, compete, and lead without obstacles.

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