During the summer, I wrote about historical milestones in diversity and inclusion that happened in 2020 and that could not be ignored.[i] Well, now I think it’s important to focus on another milestone in diversity that we need to cherish, and that needs to gain more attention despite the other, many distractions in 2020. After all, it has been too easy for us to plunged into the bad news of 2020, focusing mostly on pandemics, racial and social injustice, and even glowing over the US presidential campaigns earlier this year.
But on November 13, 2020, shortly after the presidential election, which saw Kamala Harris as the first black and Indian women’s vice president in our country, we saw Kim Ng become the highest ranked woman in baseball operations in Major League Baseball when she was hired as general manager of the Miami Marlins. Wow!
Ng (pronounced Ang) won three World Series rings while spending 21 years at the front offices of the Chicago White Sox (1990-96), New York Yankees (1998-2001) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-11). She spent the last nine years with Major League Baseball as senior vice president. The great thing about Ng is that she really started at the bottom, and rose to the top: Ng started her baseball career as White Sox intern and rose to become assistant director of baseball operations, and now general manager of the Marlins.
So not only did we have the first black female fighter pilot and the first black and Indian female vice president in 2020,[ii] but women have now also shattered another glass roof in, of all things, the male-dominated sport of Major League Baseball. Although baseball, a sport, seems as far away as we are dealing with the pandemic and the social injustices that affect our daily lives, Ng’s achievement should not be buried or ignored. We must acknowledge that this is a fairly historic milestone for women, once again, in 2020.
Of course we will all forget 2020, but we can also not afford to forget the progress women have made this year, and the importance of these milestones for women everywhere. Some have compared NG’s promotion to the general manager of a baseball team with Jackie Robinson’s legendary entry into Major League Baseball. Yes, it is important that a woman would break these job barriers, and in this case, of all things, break the seemingly insurmountable barrier into the male-dominated sport of Major League Baseball for the last 100 plus years! Ng sa treffende,
After decades of determination, it’s the honor of my career to lead the Miami Marlins. . . When I started in this business, it seemed unlikely that a woman would lead a major league team, but I am reluctant to pursue my goals.[iii]
I’m thinking about how my daughters must be in their generation to see these historic events for women unfold in 2020. Perhaps one of the most relevant quotes about Ng’s milestone achievement came from Brian Flores, coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, who said, “Everyone who “I think a woman can not manage or train or lead, I think is stupid. Kudos to Marlins.”[iv] Young women across the country need to think, now more than ever, that women can do and be what they make their heart and mind into, despite old traditions and the status quo in our society.
After all, it is not the lesson from 2020 that we all need to break the status quo? That we can no longer sit idle and not appreciate the diversity of humanity, and the beauty and uniqueness that each human being has to offer through their gender, race, sexual orientation, disability or ethnicity. Perhaps the saving grace in 2020 will be that despite all the turmoil in this dark year, history will look back on the year as the year of women, with shining reminders from our bright stars like Ng that give us all hope beyond 2020.