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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Breaking the MLB glass ceiling

Miami Marlins break a gender barrier by hiring Kim Ng as the first female general manager in MLB history

On Nov. 13, Kim Ng was announced as the new general manager for the Miami Marlins, making her the first female general manager in the world of male-dominated professional sports. She also became the first Asian-American general manager hired in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. The significance of Ng’s success extends beyond just baseball. She is the first female Asian-American to hold a high executive position in any of the major North American sports. At the age of 51 and after decades of working for the general manager position, Ng finally broke the barrier.

Ng played third base and shortstop at the University of Chicago, where she was the infield MVP. While studying for a degree in public policy, she balanced a range of other activities: positions in the student newspaper, sports editor of the yearbook and a term as president for the school’s Women’s Athletic Association.

After graduating from college in 1990, Ng began an internship with the Chicago White Sox that eventually led to a full-time position. She handled special projects and salary arbitration cases under the White Sox and earned a promotion to assistant director of baseball operations. 

After spending seven years with the White Sox, she became an assistant manager for the New York Yankees. During that time Ng got to spend more time with top caliber players after the Yankees won three World Series titles in a row. She also had the opportunity to expand her knowledge by learning from the amateur scouting director.

Once it was time to move on from the Yankees, she became assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A short time after arriving, Ng believed she could handle the position of general manager. Ng began to receive extra responsibilities on the Dodgers, such as  negotiating contracts and participating in some trade talks. Her communication skills and knowledge for the game was greatly admired by the Dodgers organization during her time there. 

Eventually, Ng interviewed for general manager openings. Ng interviewed with the Seattle Mariners, the Los Angeles Angels, the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants. Yet, Ng would have no luck, as she was not hired for any of the positions.

For the past nine years, she has spent her time as a senior vice-president with the league office. Then in 2020, she decided to once again interview for the position of general manager. With more than 30 years of baseball experience, Ng never gave up and landed her dream job with the Miami Marlins.

“I’ve interviewed numerous times for this position. I think after, you know, maybe a handful, you start thinking, well, maybe this isn’t going to happen,” Ng said on Good Morning America following her hiring. “That belief persisted for quite some time until, you know, obviously a week ago or several days ago when this happened.”

According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in the Sport’s 2020 report card, 20% of women made up the team vice presidents in MLB. There were only 21 women in on-field coaching or in player development positions. The possibility of a woman making it as an executive in professional baseball is very small and even then, they face challenges that are commonly experienced by women entering other male-dominated industries. 

Despite the hardships Ng faced, she has changed future opportunities for young girls and women in male-dominated sports. She showed them that it’s possible not only to work in baseball, but also that they could be successful in any sport.

“I got calls and text messages from guys that I’ve known over the years who were just so excited to tell their daughters and wives,” Ng told NBC News. “And then I got voicemails from friends, from front office executives, with tears, just so happy that I had broken through. But really, I think [the reactions were] more for the sport and more about what it meant for us in society.”

 Ng is making a significant change in all of professional sports and has set an example for millions of young girls and women across the world to keep persevering. Being able to see Ng and other women in high-ranking positions can show young girls how powerful they can be and how much they can achieve. 
Written by: Katherin Raygoza — sports@theaggie.org

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