Cam Newton Reveals NFL Unconscious Bias: Or more?

NFL quarterback Cam Newton is taking fire for sexist comments directed to a female reporter. Expert Bill Proudman addresses the controversy and says the issue is unconscious bias and – sometimes blatant sexism –  against women in sports roles.

NFL star Cam Newton facing backlash after offering a sexist response to a female reporter.

The reporter asked a routine question about tactics, to which Newton smirked and responded that “it’s funny to hear a female talk about routes,” drawing out the word “routes” and pausing before giving his answer. (1)

The issue of sexism is widespread in sportsBeth Mowins’s recent NFL commentary debut was tarnished by scores of male watchers complaining about the “sound of her voice”. (2)


Bill Proudman, CEO of leading diversity process consulting firm White Men As Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP), says there’s even more at play: the criticism of Mowins, coupled by Cam Newton’s blunder, result from deep-rooted cultural beliefs that men are the superior sex.


Proudman refers to a recent study which found that beginning at age 6, boys associate intelligence with their own gender while young girls do not. (3)


“The funny thing is that girls typically outperform their male peers at that age; however, boys still hold the belief they are more brilliant. That mindset isn’t exclusive to adolescents or sports; we see it every day in corporate America.”- Proudman

  • 77% of men and 55% of women believe that men make better leaders in high-stake projects. (4)


  • Parents tend to think their sons are brighter and are 2.5x more likely to do a Google search for “Is my son gifted?” than “Is my daughter gifted?” (5)


Proudman asserts that planting the seed of equality starts at a young age and directly impacts the face of the future.



Bill Proudman can speak to the following:

  • What steps do you recommend Boards and C-Level echelons take to ensure they are on the right track in terms of diversity?
  • How can the NFL and other sports organizations eradicate sexism in the ranks?
  • What is the biggest mistake you see companies making when it comes to diversity and discrimination?
  • Apart from financial gains, what other benefits do organizations attain for having a diverse workplace?
  • Why do you think so many organizations still come under fire for discrimination? Wouldn’t their HR department put that as a top priority to avoid?
  • What are your thoughts on an unconscious bias? How do you recommend employers getting around something they may not even be aware they are doing?
  • Do companies who explicitly work towards having a diverse team have better company morale? What have you seen?
  • What potential does diversity have to propel the new economy even further? More jobs? Increased innovation?


WMFDP’s mission is to inspire leaders to examine their mindsets and assumptions, to shift behaviors that create sustainable and inclusive work cultures, which in turn drives business results.  Their client list includes: Rockwell Automation, Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, BP, Shell, Intel, AT&T, Dell, Microsoft, HP, NASA, Catalyst (women’s advocacy leader), and MARC (Men Advocating Real Change).