Above photo: Comcaster Lauren is all smiles post half-marathon
By Lauren Marugg, Senior Business Assurance Analyst, Tigard
The first Boston Marathon was held in 1897, however, women weren’t allowed to run in it until 1971.
Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb applied for entrance into the Boston Marathon in 1966, but to her shock, her application was denied. The race director was concerned that women were not physically capable of running 26 miles.
Undeterred, Bobbi set out to do exactly what they said she couldn’t: run the race anyway. On April 19, 1966, she hid in the bushes at the start line, and at the starting gun, jumped into the race. The other runners – all male – couldn’t help but notice the woman running among them. To Bobbi’s surprise, they showed support for her. But the pressure was on – spectators and journalists had noticed her, too.
I can’t imagine the responsibility she felt to finish the race, knowing that if she didn’t succeed, the misconceptions about women’s ability to run would only be reinforced. But her training, heart, and determination served her well and she crossed the finish line.
Bobbi’s story serves as a huge inspiration for my own life, particularly because I share her passion for running. Running lets me push my limits and reach goals I never thought I could. It’s difficult to articulate how strong and capable I feel after crossing that finish line. Running gives me a sense of accomplishment that I strive for in all areas of my life – including my role as a Senior Analyst at Comcast.
Unlike Bobbi, I’ve never been told that I couldn’t register for a race, but I do know what it’s like to be underestimated and underrepresented. For most of my career, I’ve been in industries that are typically male dominated. At the beginning of my professional journey, I struggled with wondering whether I was tough enough to survive in what felt like the good ol’ boys club. At first, others assumed it would be easy to run me over because I was young and female. I quickly realized, though, that if I wanted to succeed, I couldn’t let that be the case.
My manager at my first real job was also female, and I immediately recognized that she was someone I could learn from. She was instrumental in my professional growth and provided me just the right balance of coaching paired with autonomy, allowing me to learn independently and trusting me to make decisions. Working alongside someone who believed in me and saw my potential helped me realize my own worth.
I was fortunate to have this manager as a role model and a supporter in the workplace, and fortunately, there have been other key people along the way who believed in me as well. They supported me and championed me to others. This made me feel validated and empowered, which in turn gave me a sense of confidence. I remember feeling unstoppable the first time a superior at work turned a big decision over to me to make the final call on – that vote of confidence went a long way.
As my career has progressed, I’ve learned to recognize what I value most in my professional life: to be in an environment where I can be myself, and to work with organizations that foster the personal and professional growth of their employees. As a new Comcaster, it is apparent to me that the company values the same things I do. My goal is to find ways to give back to the community that supports me, which is why being a part of the Women’s Network at Comcast is so important. My professional experience has been supported by instrumental people along the way and I strive to support others. Luckily, the Women’s Network at Comcast provides an excellent platform for doing just that.