Catherine Faas is leading the shift towards gender equality in sports
Working as a woman in a male-dominated industry is a hurdle which Catherine Faas has easily overcome in order to succeed in her career.
Faas has been working as the digital and social media lead for the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) for the past six years. As well, Faas is a Laurier graduate who studied journalism at the Brantford campus.
As the digital and social media lead, Faas oversees all editorials for NHLPA.com, which includes videos, photos and article production. In addition, Faas manages the NHLPA’s social strategy and educates players on how to employ the most effective social media practices.
The NHLPA has approximately 750 players within their membership at any given time. The large quantity of players and frequent games being played, Faas explained, allows for new storylines to arise almost every day.
“I love the challenge of every day being very different from the previous day,” Faas said. “There’s an endless amount of unique challenges and stories that we can tell and that’s my favourite part.”
Faas noted that many of the skills she was taught during her time at Laurier has helped pave the path to working within the media.
“The thing that benefited me the most is the basics of journalism … and other skills we learned in terms of interviewing skills, fact checking and making sure that we’re writing in a way that’s consistent. All those things helped make me really great at what I do,” Faas said.
With news rooms shifting and becoming smaller, Faas said she tried to focus on using technology and different vehicles and platforms with which stories can be told.
“The advice I would give anyone is to immerse yourself in the industry as much as possible. Attend as many conferences and working events … you might meet one person and get one business card and that’s a step in the right direction.”
“There was a focus on podcasts and video production and a variety of things we can use to learn a whole bunch of different skill sets in addition to writing,” Faas said.
Prior to the NHLPA, Faas was employed with CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, formerly The Hour. Through this opportunity, she took a took a job within CBC’s sports department.
“I really fell in love with it and from there it just kind of snowballed into wanting to work in [sports] full time,” she said. “I grew up loving and playing hockey but I wouldn’t say I had dreams of getting into sports. It was sort of a happy accident.”
However, working in the male-dominated sports industry has brought forth common obstacles for Faas.
“I think all women in any industry face unique challenges at times. But in terms of sports, specifically, I think that women often have to prove that they know the game a lot more than men have to do,” Faas said.
“It’s not a given that your male co-workers will assume you watched last night’s games and understand the stats and know as much as they do on the subject. That’s something that I find endlessly frustrating.”
Although Faas believes many industries, including sports, have experienced a shift in regards to gender equality and diversity, the work to achieve this is not completely done.
“The advice I would give anyone is to immerse yourself in the industry as much as possible. Attend as many conferences and working events … you might meet one person and get one business card and that’s a step in the right direction,” Faas said.
“As a woman, I would say be confident. If you know your stuff it should be easy to be confident. And be assertive; don’t wait for opportunities and don’t wait for invitations. Be a little more aggressive than you normally would and that’s going to help you in any aspect of your career; not just sports.”