An Atlantic Canada hockey league is in full swing to recruit more women into operations.
“These opportunities should be there whether you’re male or female,” said Troy Dumville, president of the Maritime Junior Hockey League. “That’s our goal, to create those chances.”
On Friday, the league announced it was trying to recruit women into 10 vacancies in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, primarily as assistant coaches and talent scouts .
Jobs come with small salaries.
But Dumville says they’re a crucial stepping stone to full-time employment in hockey operations, a field traditionally dominated by men.
Importance of support
Dumville says new hires will attend monthly online conferences hosted by a group of experts he has recruited to advise and encourage them.
Among those experts is Cheryl MacDonald, a professor at the Center for Sport and Health at Saint Mary’s University.
She has studied masculinity in hockey for over a decade.
“Making sure they’re supported throughout their experience is what’s really special about this program,” MacDonald said.
She says there are gender differences in how women experience hockey culture, which can affect how they fit into new roles on a team.
“A lot of women don’t grow up with hockey the same way boys and men grow up,” MacDonald said. “They don’t come as naturally to the environment, and they don’t always have the same inherent knowledge.”
Dumville says there are more opportunities in hockey operations for women who are successful at the highest levels of the sport, like former Team Canada players.
But he wants to hire more women who are passionate about the game but who, like him, haven’t had an elite hockey career.
Dumville says as of Friday he has already heard from about 20 women interested in the positions.
He says that on paper there are enough qualified candidates to fill more than half of the 10 vacancies.
The Maritime Junior Hockey League consists of 12 teams, with approximately 250 male players between the ages of 16 and 20.
Dumville says they are more open to women in leadership roles than previous generations of men in the sport.
“They want to learn, they want to grow,” he said. “They don’t really care if you’re male or female as long as you provide their development and work with them.”
Dumville believes this initiative is the first of its kind in Canada.
He hopes this will inspire other leagues to include more women in their organizations.