On Monday, March 14 and Tuesday, March 15, the NFL will host its sixth annual Women's Forum as part of its ongoing, league-wide commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Women's Forum aims to connect female participants with leaders in professional football. There have been 23 NFL clubs that have hired past Forum participants and over 200 opportunities have emerged for women in all levels of football since its inception in 2017.
For the second consecutive year, participants will take part in the two-day event virtually. Throughout the event, there will be panel discussions, breakout sessions, and networking activities with owners, executives, coaches, industry experts, and hiring managers. Most of the participants attending this forum work in entry-level college football roles and will learn what could be next for them in a career in professional football.
Along with Roger Goodell and his wife Jane, three club owners, eight head coaches, and seven general managers will participate in this Forum. Kim Pegula, Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane will all be speaking during the two-day event. In addition, two members of the Bills front office Andrea Gosper (Player Personnel Coordinator) and Mechelle Geeter (Scouting Assistant) will be speaking.
Sam Rapoport, the Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the NFL was on One Bills Live on Friday to discuss the upcoming Women's Forum, the growth of women in the sport in the past few years, and how she anticipates more advancement in the near future.
"The Bills are always really represented since the program started," Rapoport told Chris Brown and Steve Tasker. "Kim was actually the first owner to raise her hand to speak at this program six years ago when she didn't know me or anything about it. So, I always have a soft spot, in my heart for the Bills for that reason.
"… It's fantastic to see the progress and what they've done. What you have all done at the Bills to set the standard for women being everywhere. Not just being a token hire or a one-year, one there. It really is ubiquitous with the Bills and that's what we're striving for it all 32."
When the Bills hired Kathryn Smith as a special teams quality control coach in 2016, she was the first female full-time coach in NFL History. For Rapoport, it's not about making history anymore, she wants women in all aspects of sports to be normalized.
"We want we want women on all 32 teams on their sidelines," Rapoport added. "That's when it'll start to become normal because the overall goal here is normalization. We don't like the spotlight. We don't like to say the first female this and that. No one wants that title. We don't want to say it, we acknowledge it, and we move on.
"But the next step for the program is that if every club gets involved and we start seeing women on the sidelines of every NFL team, which it should be because people who identify as women make up half the population, that will be success and it's gonna happen soon."
For more information on the 2022 NFL Women's Forum and the full agenda for March 14, click here.