espnW and ESPN celebrate “Women Making History” month

Earlier this month, the cast of ABC's Good Morning America helped promote espnW's #WhenIPlay video.
Earlier this month, the cast of ABC’s Good Morning America helped promote espnW’s #WhenIPlay video.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Senior Vice President, espnW and Women’s Initiatives, Laura Gentile, explores espnW’s approach to Women’s History Month.

March marks Women’s History Month here in the United States, the UK and Australia. Truthfully, I’ve struggled with Women’s History Month ever since I began leading our espnW business.

I have often wondered — why does our nation need to give us our own month versus recognizing our contributions every month of the year? I’ve often asked, “Is this the best way to commemorate our impact on society?”

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Yet this year is different. Inspiration struck, and we decided to turn Women’s History Month into a celebration, not of our past, but of our future. As a team, we are not looking back, we’re looking forward to an even brighter, more equitable tomorrow. At espnW, March is now “Women Making History” month as we feature women making a difference in our industry and on our culture at large.

We kicked it all off with a powerful and inspiring short film, #WhenIPlay. Written by one of espnW’s top content creators, Allison Glock, who also served as creative director of the film, it gives voice to women and girls who see sports as a way to embrace their power. The film captures the inspiration and strength of female athletes and is serving as a rallying cry.

The support and positive feedback we have received on the film has been tremendous. Our colleagues across television, programming and production, led by EVP, Production, Norby Williamson, SVP, SportsCenter and News, Rob King, and VP, ESPN Production, Marcia Keegan, enabled us to showcase this work across our networks on March 1. It was a demonstration of the power of ESPN and the strength of our collective assets when directed behind a single message.

The film led ESPN.com for much of the day last Wednesday, too. On Facebook alone, to date, the film has garnered over 7 million impressions and 1.5 million video views. It’s been showcased by partners ranging from the U.S. Department of State to Good Morning America, from the WNBA to U.S. Soccer, and external media like BuzzFeed, HuffingtonPost, Refinery29 and MAKERS have also highlighted the film.

Throughout the month espnW will also highlight women in sports who are achieving the once unimaginable. Women like Lisa Davis, the first African-American woman to complete the Triple Seven Quest — seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. And, she did it faster than any woman ever!

Across ESPN, we will continue to showcase female athletes all month. We’ll have more than 140 hours of live women’s event programming, including every game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Original content will continue to premiere on espnW.com, plus special guests on The Trifecta ESPN Radio show each week and a Women Making History espnW and ESPN Radio special on March 28 (9-11 p.m. ET).

At ESPN, women are decision-makers, key contributors and leaders every single day, and in every aspect of our business — as corporate executives; as talented on-air hosts, commentators, journalists and editors; and, yes, as producers of Academy Award-winning films! Women help drive our content and business 24/7, 365 days per year. I’m extremely proud to work at ESPN, the industry leader in advancing women in sports, but also the best in the business of sports storytelling, coverage, expert analysis and. . . inspiration.

There is much opportunity ahead, and I’m motivated by the espnW team composed of boldly creative, ambitious people. It’s still incredible to me that we launched espnW with only five full-time staffers six years ago. I thank all of you for your support of our team and our mission. This month, and every month, be sure to high-five, fist bump or thank the inspirational women in your life.