JACKSONVILLE – Celebrated every August 26th, Women's Equality Day honors the women's suffrage movement in the United States and remembers the hurdles women had to overcome in their stride toward progress. Paradigm for Parity, a movement of business leaders who address the corporate leadership gender gap, has recognized Asia Gholston – the Jaguars' Director of Marketing – as one of their emerging leaders. Ashlyn Sullivan from Jaguars.com caught up with Gholston ahead of Women's Equality Day to talk about how she got where she is now and how she is paving the way for younger females.
Q: Sounds vague, but tell me how you got where you are today?
Gholston: Originally from Detroit, that is where I started my career. I went to New York, Florida, LA, back to New York and now here in Jacksonville. I have worked for the NBA and the NFL League office. I have always been really adamant about the roles I took on and making sure I can be impactful in that role. I always knew what I wanted to do. My goals always needed to align with the role.
Q: You have been on a lot of stops along your career journey, being a woman on those stops, what was easy and what was challenging for you?
Gholston: It was just me… I didn't have to worry about moving a family or a puppy at the time. Whenever the role called, all I needed was thirty days. I have made multiple cross-country moves and I have made them in three weeks. I was flexible. Some of the challenging things, especially in the first stop of my career being in the automotive industry, another male-dominated industry… now I work in the NFL. You learn there is this perception about women that work in sports. One thing, I found myself having to explain myself a lot in my career. I am a casual fan at best, I love the business of sport way more than the game. At first, I used to be really self-conscious about that – if I am woman working in sports, I have to be able to hang with the best of them in every category, but I had to get comfortable that I loved more how the deals were being made and what are the sponsorship aspects? When I see a player walking off the plane with Bose headphones I am wondering "How much did they pay him?" those are things that make me think. I thought I needed to assimilate but I have found there is a space for me and what I am interested in. I found my circle in sports.
Q: This gender gap that we talk about, do you feel like progress has been made or is there still some work to be done?
Gholston: I think there is still some work that needs to be done. I will say one thing that interested me when coming to the Jags, there were so many women in leadership positions. You don't see them because normally they are working behind closed doors. Understanding who runs the department, you would think it is a male but there are a lot of women. There is room to grow because this is not widely known or second nature to think women are running the department. I hate when it is a surprise and we have to put 'She is the first woman to do this.' Quite frankly we should have been there a long time ago. I want young girls to know these roles exist and they are needed in them.
Q: What is the best piece of advice to a female who is trying to get involved in sports?
Gholston: So, the fun thing about being a woman in sports is we all want to help other women get here. I always tell them, "Find a mentor and find your tribe." A lot of it is going to be who you know and who can connect you. Someone in my position, I think, "I can't wait to bring the next Asia on." You need someone who can advocate for you when you are not in the room and who understands what you are doing on the college level that can get you to the professional level. You've started a blog? Send it to me so I can read it. It's not fake, we really want to see more women in sports.