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I believe the only limitations are the ones that we accept. I know that there is, in theory, a glass ceiling. But I don’t believe that it’s a solid wall. I’m going through it. Nothing is stopping me . Yes, there are these preconceived notions; yes we have challenges . Let’s accept them let’s not be afraid of them, let’s break through them.” -Debbi Fields-
In a world dominated by men, it is always hard to find women in powerful positions or high posts. However, thanks to a few strong women, it seems this trend is changing. More and more women are taking up challenging roles that they thought to be only for men. Women are taking up more space in every sector, and every platform and sports is no exception.
Specifically, within Major League Baseball (MLB), we see one woman making headlines and breaking glass ceilings as she accomplishes something no woman has done before. We are talking about Kim Ng, the general manager of Miami Marlins in Miami, Florida.
Kimberly J. Ng was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on November 17, 1968, to parents Jin Ng and Virginia Fong. Kim’s father was of Cantonese-Chinese descent and worked as a financial analyst, while her mother, also of Chinese descent, was a banker. Kim grew up in New York, mostly in Queens, and discovered her love for sports.
While attending public elementary school in Fresh Meadows, Queens, Kim would play stickball with her friends, using maintenance hole covers and cars as bases. She would also play tennis with her mother’s side of the family. Even as a young girl, Kim would often face discrimination on the playground. Others told her that she couldn’t play because she was a girl, but Kim never let this bother her and continued to partake in her hobby.
Besides that, her father was a significant factor behind her love for sports and particularly for baseball. Despite growing up in Queens, the Ng family was a big fan of the New York Yankees instead of their neighborhood Mets. Kim and her father would often go to games together and discuss everything baseball. Even though Kim’s father passed away when she was 11, his influence remained, and Kim’s passion for baseball only grew.
Soon after, the family moved to Glen Cove on Long Island, where Kim attended junior high. Then, they moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey, where Kim attended Ridgewood High School. Over here, Kim would actively play softball and tennis till she graduated in 1986. For college, Kim wanted to go somewhere that was a top college and somewhere she could play.
Consequently, she went to the University of Chicago and played Division III softball. Even though her mother had tried to steer her towards other professions offering more career opportunities for women, Kim stuck to sports. At university, Kim served as the softball team captain and was even named the MVP infielder. She wrote her thesis on Title IX, a federal law forbidding gender discrimination. Kim graduated in 1990 with a degree in public policy.
She also met her now-husband Tony Markward while at university.
Start of professional career
The naturally talented and passionate woman she was, Kim, started her professional career as soon as she graduated from university. Her former coach helped her connect with the White Sox, who were looking for an intern. Kim grabbed the position right away.
Even though Kim was often the only woman in the office, she didn’t let it bother her or deter her from my path. She continued to work with the White Sox for the next six years, quickly climbing the organization’s ranks.
She worked under executives like Dan Evans and Ron Schueler, handling all kinds of projects. She was responsible for special assignments and even salary arbitration cases, which earned her a promotion to special projects analyst and then assistant director of baseball operations. During her tenure with the White Sox, Kim Ng also became the youngest person and first woman to lead a salary arbitration case for pitcher Alex Fernandez in the major leagues and win the case.
In 1997, Kim moved on to the American League. As the Director of Waivers and Records, she would approve team transactions and consult teams across the country regarding rules and regulations. During this time, Brian Cashman, then assistant general manager to the Yankees, noticed Kim Ng.
So, when he became the general manager himself in 1998, he brought on Kim as the Yankees’ assistant general manager, the youngest person ever to hold the position and only the second woman. Kim had a flourishing career with the Yankees. The team won three World Series consecutively, and Kim made fair use of that fact. She spent a lot of time around excellent players such as Jeter and tried to gain as much knowledge as she could.
She would use her fantastic people skills to build connections and learn more about the field, how scouting worked, which statistics were essential, and so on. In 2001, Kim left the Yankees to join the Dodgers as assistant general manager under Dan Evans. She was with the Dodgers for about a decade, and it was during this time, people started talking about Kim becoming a general manager.
On opening day, March 4, 2012, few thought that a female would ever become the Marlins' General Manager.
Photo By Roberto Coquis-Flicker: Marlins First Pitch at Marlins Park, March 4, 2012
Wikipedia CC BY 2.0
Becoming the GM of Miami Marlins in Miami, Florida
Even though the speculations had started and Kim herself had started preparing herself, it took her almost another decade to get to that position. While still with the Dodgers, Kim had begun taking on more responsibility. She would handle player development and scouting. She dealt with the media and acted as point-person for the team.
After Dan Evans, the team hired Paul DePodesta for the general manager position, even though they had interviewed Kim. After Paul came, Ned Colletti further increased Kim’s responsibilities, putting her in charge of some trade talks and even giving her contracts to negotiate. Ned also recommended Kim for several GM positions. Consequently, Kim interviewed for the job at several teams such as Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, and even the Giants.
However, every time Kim gave an interview, she would get a call back after a few days saying the team was choosing someone else for the position. It was quite disappointing for Kim, losing the part one after the other, but she never gave up.
According to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia Miami, Florida (/maɪˈæmi/), officially the City of Miami, is a metropolis located in southeastern Florida in the United States. It is the third most populous metropolis on the East coast of the United States, and it is the seventh-largest in the country. The city has the third tallest skyline in the U.S. with over 300 high-rises, 55 of which exceed 491 ft (150 m). It is home of the Miami Marlins Professional Baseball Team.
In 2011, Kim Ng followed her manager Torre to the Major League Baseball as senior vice president of baseball operations. This position allowed Kim to strengthen her resume further as she became familiar with all thirty teams in the league.
She continued to give interviews for the GM position, and everyone indeed recognized her strengths. Yet, there had never been a female GM, and everyone was hesitant to break that gender barrier. Eventually, in 2020, Kim Ng was finally able to bag the general manager position when Derek Jeter brought her on as GM for the Miami Marlins.
Breaking the glass ceiling
Kim Ng’s appointment as the general manager made her the first-ever woman to be hired as general manager of a men’s team in the major leagues and the first Asian-American woman to take on the position.
Kim broke a giant glass ceiling that existed in the sports industry. Forbes ranked her as one of the most powerful women in sports, and many of Kim’s superiors have lauded her skills and perseverance for getting the job.
Unfortunately, we are still a long way from eradicating gender discrimination. Women still face many hurdles and prejudices to get a chance at the same opportunities as men.
Research shows that more than 40% of women working today have reported gender discrimination at work. Sometimes, it is in the form of lower salaries than their male counterparts in the same position, or sometimes it’s being disregarded for essential tasks in favor of other male colleagues.
Kim Ng’s journey serves as a great source of inspiration for many young girls hoping to get into the world of sports.
“When I got into this business, it seemed unlikely a woman would lead a major league team, but I am dogged in the pursuit of my goals. My goal is now to bring championship baseball to Miami.”-Kim Ng-