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There’s no crying in baseball

Women are no longer content to sit in the stands. We want to be part of the game and get our gloves dirty.


Mary Jo Larson
Mary Jo can be reached at mlarson@franchisetimes.com

Because I live with three guys, one would think I wouldn’t continue to be surprised that sometimes the genders communicate differently. But after 18-year-old son Ben’s baseball game two weeks ago, I was struck again by how differently he and I viewed two situations.

I was sitting in my lawn chair on the sidelines, to the right of our team’s bench. They were nearing the end of the season, so the guys were getting squirrelly. Of course there was grabbing someone’s hat and throwing it around and the usual ribbing about this or that. One teammate was getting it more than others, and I felt sorry for him.

Later in the game, our team’s pitcher was struggling at the mound, but not so much because he was having trouble getting the ball to the plate, but because the catcher was not stopping the ball. Two runs came in because of this, and the pitcher was growing visibly agitated. At one point, between pitches, he walked off the mound toward the catcher, slammed his fist in his mitt and between clenched teeth growled, “Catch the ball.” Ouch. I could see the catcher tense. Both benches were silent.

Later that evening, I commented on both incidences: first, the teammate getting the extra ribbing from the other players. A thoughtful Ben paused (how do I break it to her?), and said, “No offense, Mom, but guys just don’t get offended the way girls do.” (The girls in his “group” have given him some lessons on what to say to them, and what not to say, I suspect.) Ben went on to tell me what a great guy that player is. They really like him—a lot. And, I guess that’s their way of showing it.

And the situation with the pitcher and the catcher? “He should really catch the ball, Mom,” Ben said practically. Husband Doug’s response to the same situation? “Yeah, he really should catch the ball.”

Ah. And I was worried about the catcher’s feelings.

Do women get offended easier than men? Can men’s feelings really take a licking and keep on ticking? And, if I were the pitcher, how would I have approached the catcher?

I don’t just encounter these differences in my personal life. Gender differences, and similarities, play themselves out at work, too. FT Editor Nancy Weingartner and I discuss gender differences in the workplace a lot, because we are fascinated with the subject. So it was with great interest that I read her article on the Women’s Foodservice Forum and its position on gender and the role it plays on the job.

The WFF has grown its membership by leaps and bounds, and some of that growth has come from the male sector of foodservice. While female members still greatly outnumber men on the WFF membership roster, Nancy’s article highlights some of the reasons men have joined and why they believe an organization such as this is crucial to the industry—and why the women who run the WFF believe it’s important to include their male counterparts. One big takeaway from the article: The differences between us add to, not subtract from, the equation. But it’s interesting to read just how.

Speaking of differences: If you are a regular reader of FT, you may notice other differences this month. In our continuing effort to make FT better, we’ve done a bit of reorganizing. (Please read our “From the editor” note on page 14 for more information.) To paint it broadly, we’ve added more news than ever before, expanded our legal section, and will continue to bring perspective on all things franchise. For instance, take a look at FT reporter Jonathan Maze’s article on Dunkin’ Donuts’ stance on franchisee compliance, which is more stringent than many. How do franchisees feel about this? You may be surprised.

And what about casual and family dining restaurant companies’ struggle to stay relevant to the consumer? Are those chains fighting an uphill battle? FT Research Director Paul Olson puts it in perspective, pulling together the numbers along with commentary from analysts and others watching the sectors day in and day out.

We’ve packed it full this month, I won’t lie. And we welcome your comments about our new editorial organization, the content of our articles and the slant at which we look at each subject. E-mail us. Give us your feedback. And even though Ben might assume my feelings could get hurt, I promise they won’t. We want to hit the ball out of the park.

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