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Baseball Red Sox hailed by rival Yankees for decision to elevate female executive Raquel Ferreira

Yankees assistant general manager Jean Afterman thinks the inclusion of Raquel Ferreira as part of a quartet running baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox is a step forward for women in the sport.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was fired Sunday. Boston assistant GMs Brian O’Halloran, Eddie Romero and Zack Scott will lead baseball operations during the search for his successor and Ferreira will have an expanded role from her current job as senior vice-president of major- and minor-league operations.

“Maybe five years ago or 10 years ago she would not even be considered to be part of that gang of four,” Afterman said Thursday during a women in sport panel at the Beyond Sport conference. “Raquel never wanted to put herself forward, didn’t generally speak publicly and wasn’t out there in front, and I told her little girls have to see you in that position. And she’s got (an 11)-year-old daughter. And so she said you know you’re right. Gabby has to see me in that position.”

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Ferreira is just the third woman senior VP in a baseball operations department after Kim Ng and Afterman. No MLB team has hired a woman as GM.

“I think it’s important for people to see women in front offices. And I think we often sometimes feel that we’re being arrogant or, ‘oh look at me look at me.'"

Afterman was joined on the panel by National Women’s Soccer League president Amanda Duffy and Courtney Levinsohn, executive producer of a movie chronicling the pursuit of a top European coaching license by Tracy Hamm, then with San Francisco State and now at Cal Davis.

“We have a responsibility to just kind of stick around,” Afterman said. I’m in my 18th season at the Yankees and I love my job. Perhaps even if there are other things that I want to do with my life, I really think that it’s important for girls to see that I’m still here. I lasted 18 years. I probably could go another 18. Women in my family live an awfully long period of time.“

Duffy, whose league was boosted by the United States’ second straight Women’s World Cup title, said terminology needs to change,

“It starts with the conversation and how we in leadership roles talk about it and how we talk about the tournament: the World Cup versus the Women’s World Cup, women athletes versus athletes,” she said. “They’re all athletes. We’re all leaders. We’re all executives working in sport to help shift that cultural thinking around.”

Afterman said media often does not focus sufficiently on what women do on the field.

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“A lot of times people want to look at sort of the backstory because that’s so fluffy and pretty,” she said, adding such depictions ignore how tough women can be. “Sport tells a story for an hour or two hours – or in my case four hours.”

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