June 8, 2020

Paola Boivin became an industry leader, and now she’s seeing the benefits

Nick Alvarez

A few days ago, speaking to a member of the Phoenix Suns media relations staff, Paola Boivin saw first-hand the growth of women in sports journalism. The trajectory of her career mirrored back at her. Boivin asked a staffer why stars like Devin Booker seem so comfortable around female reporters. The staffer’s response surprised Boivin: “It’s all they know,” she said. Boivin has had a jockstrap thrown at her in a locker room, she’s been chastised for her gender, yet she’s continued to make a mark for women in sports journalism. Her nearly 40-year career features awards while at The Arizona Republic, a presidency of the Association for Women in Sports Media and an induction in the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. Her work isn’t done. Now as the digital director of Arizona State’s Cronkite News and member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, she’s able to influence the new generation. Growing up, Boivin drew eye black on her Barbie dolls. She loved sports immediately. Later as an Arizona columnist, she took pride when hate mail distinguished her as a “crappy writer” and not a “female” one. Speaking to our Sports Journalism Institute class, Boivin reflected on her journey and new ways to move forward. She encouraged a group of young, diverse journalists to speak up when publications limit the scope of women in sports. Boivin pushed for us to find interesting stories on female athletes that would be of interest to any reader. She stifled tears and left that clubhouse early in her career when a jockstrap was thrown at her to send a message that she didn’t belong. Boivin has shown she does.

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