The Women’s World Cup Is a Pivotal Moment for Women in Sports

We’re investing in sport, not only in the kind of campaigns that you see and the products we’re making for women, but also investing in sport at a grassroots level. It is super important that we continue to support and inspire young women around the world participating in sport.

We’ve really seen, as we’ve talked to girls around the world, this idea that they need to see it to be it. One of the ways we’re doing that is we’re partnering with different groups around the world—Girls Inc. is one example—to help activate more female coaches. So they can see mentorship and not just be inspired by the elite athletes like Alex Morgan, but they can see themselves through the opportunities for female coaches.

Women make up 40 percent of all sports participants, but women’s sports receive only 4 percent of media coverage. Adidas came out earlier this year to push for equal coverage and committed to having equal gender representation across their own social channels. How is Nike thinking about that issue?

“Dream Further” is just one piece of it. We are shifting resources to women and women’s sports. The campaign is one element of the investment we’re making. We do believe we all have a role to play in this for sure, and we’re really excited to get to do our part.

We’ve been supporting female athletes for over 40 years. From Joan Benoit with her running the marathon in the L.A. Olympics, to Title IX in the United States, to Serena Williams most recently, we’ve continued to be on this journey over the last 40 years.

Earlier this week we were at our European headquarters, where we sent off the Dutch national team, and one of the players talked about how, five years ago when they played, they had around 3,000 spectators. A week ago, in their match right before heading to the World Cup, they filled the stadium with over 30,000 spectators.

With this momentum and the investment on top of it, in this World Cup there are eight or nine teams who are in strong contention. We still have a lot to learn together about how we can continue to support and elevate female athletes, but we are sure excited about where it is today and the direction it’s heading.

EDITORS’ NOTE: In a statement provided to Glamour after the interview, a spokesperson elaborated that Nike is putting resources behind women with female-specific gear innovation, through expanding partnerships with female creative collaborators and by reaching women in a wider variety of sports like yoga.

In May, Olympic runner and former Nike athlete Alysia Montano spoke out in a video for the New York Times about how Nike’s athlete contracts have penalized women during pregnancy and postpartum recovery. Similar stories from athletes Kara Goucher and Allyson Felix followed. How did you feel seeing that in the New York Times and having that issue highlighted?

To see that and to hear that, I was disappointed. I’m continually motivated to—like we’ve done for 40 years—listen to our athletes and from that listening, make change. On that issue we have had an inconsistency in approach across our different sports, and last year we actually standardized our policy to make sure that no female athlete is penalized for pregnancy. What we didn’t do, which was a miss, is to make sure that all of our athletes’ agents remained aware of that policy.

We can’t change the past, but we sure can change the future. Immediately we’re going back to all of our contracts and updating the language, ensuring that all those athletes and agents are made aware of that change. That new language states that we’re waving [penalties for] performance reductions for 12 months. It’s super important to make sure that all those athletes and those contracts have been changed with that updated policy language because we truly believe at our core that we want to support women to be amazing athletes and amazing mothers.