Some female executives don't feel at ease with business golf outings

Some female executives don't feel at ease with business golf outings
Some female executives say they don't feel at ease with business golf outings. (Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

Many business relationships are forged on the golf course, often smack in the middle of the workday.

But some women say they still feel awkward stepping out of the office for a round of golf.


Karen Firestone, chief executive of Aureus Asset Management in Boston, said she was surprised by the reaction she received while playing a few holes on a recent weekday afternoon.

"Hey, great to see you. But don't you still work?" one man said.

"So, you've finally decided to retire?" said another.

The reaction was perplexing, Firestone said in a Harvard Business Review article.

"Both men were professionals, as were most people on the golf course that weekday afternoon, and no one was asking them if they still were employed," Firestone said. "So why did they ask me?"

Firestone said she was so surprised by the reaction that she decided to survey executives to see whether gender played a role in their opinions about weekday golf outings.

She found that 90% of the men, and about 40% of the women, participate in some weekday outings, generally three to four times a year.

A majority of the women thought their colleagues would be more critical of female leisure activity than male.  More women than men felt guilty about playing golf.

Yet almost all men disagreed that there would be career bias against women who were out occasionally to play a sport.  Even so, almost all the foursomes they played in were exclusively male.

Firestone had this advice for female golfers: "Let your colleagues and business associates know that you would like the opportunity to join them on an outing.  If they don't know you play, they won't ever ask you."

She said a male real estate executive recently told her that he would golf with his female partner, "But she hates golf."

"I told him I play – let's see if he asks."



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