Student organization at Temple promotes women in media

The founder of the club, Erin Steffe, just graduated, leaving the association with a new e-board.

(Left) Junior media studies and production major Brynna Haupt, junior journalism major and SMSW president Brooklyn Vaughan and senior journalism major Rebecca Werez lead a meeting for the Sports Media Society for Women at Morgan Hall South on Jan. 22. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

During her second semester, Erin Steffe, along with other female students, attended a regional event at a 76ers game, co-hosted by the Association for Women in Sports Media in January 2017.

She wanted to create a similar organization on campus and took active steps towards it in fall 2018. Alice Castellini, her media studies and production professor, encouraged her to make it a reality and helped her start the organization and supporting Steffe as its faculty advisor. 

“It’s kind of hard to find a place where there is women in sports, so I wanted a place where people could feel encouraged and excited and wanted to learn more about how women in the fieldwork,” Steffe, a 2019 media studies and production alumna, said. 

Sports Media Society for Women was founded by Steffe in Fall 2019 as an organization for female students in sports media. It aims to advocate opportunities for women in the sports industry and empower them to follow roles that are historically non-traditional careers for women, Steffe said. 

Vaughan and Brynna Haupt, a junior media studies and production student, originally helped Steffe start the organization as they joined her as vice president and secretary, respectively. 

Brooklyn Vaughan, a junior journalism major, is the club’s new president. The club also has a new executive board and Steffe helped them transition as she outlined their goals and plans for this semester.

They will have various events for members including talks and conversations with women in the professional sports industry, Vaughan said. 

“It is important to have representation, inspiring and showing other women that they deserve a spot in the industry just like anyone else,” Haupt said. 

“There’s such a stigma with women not being trusted enough in the field because we’ve always seen males, specifically white, dominating and controlling all aspects of sports and women have always been in more subordinate roles and now it’s time for females to be represented to show that we understand sports and can do just as much as males,” Haupt added. 

The new e-board is just as driven, passionate and organized as the founder, Castellini said. She wants to help the organization fulfill its goals in the sports section, which is not vastly open for females. It will get there someday, but Temple is a good place to start, she said.  

Vaughan is excited to get together with other females who want to pursue careers in the sports industry, share experiences and build connections, she said. One of her favorite parts of being a member is the guest speakers she has the opportunity to meet.

Kristen Rogers, the sports anchor at local station FOX 29, talked to the girls via FaceTime at one of their meetings in December and it was a huge connection to have in the industry, she said.

In fall 2019, they invited other women in sports media to share their experiences with organization members like Sarah Higgins, the associate director of athletics communication and social media at the University of Notre Dame. Angelise Stuhl, a 2014 journalism alumna, who is the sports director of the Philadelphia Sports Digest, a multimedia site for local high schools, was also invited.

Though the organization focuses on helping women in sports build connections and receive mentoring, everybody, regardless of gender identity, is welcome to join, Castellini said. 

Alexa Ross, a 2018 journalism alumna and sports anchor at News 8 WROC in Rochester, will be a guest speaker in February. It will be a positive experience because many students are concerned about what happens right after college and how to get in an industry like this, Vaughan said. 

They also plan to hold workshops to prepare members for career fairs and professional opportunities, Vaughan said. They want to publicize the organization at various campus-wide fronts to recruit new members, she added. 

“We want a lot of people in the university to know about it because it is a really big appeal factor,” Vaughan said. “I know if had known that a school organization like this existed when I was searching for college, it would have made my decision easier and instant because it is such an important thing you know, to have a support system for young female journalists pursuing the sports industry. It is a really cool opportunity.”

The sports industry is cutthroat and it’s important to learn to be comfortable asking for what women want and deserve, knowing how to ask the right way, Steffe said. 

There are already women who are laying the groundwork for the future, but then it’s up to us to continue their legacy and further push the boundaries,” she said. “People stand on the shoulders of those who have come before them; it’s about not accepting stereotypes or the undermining comments,” she added.

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