FT's Gillian Tett has a nice column on a recent study which found that "some 19 out of 20 women who sit in the “C-suite” – holding the title “chief something” – were sporty as a teenager; indeed, seven out of 10 still play sport as a working adult, while six out of 10 played sport at university." Musing on possible causal links that might explain this finding, Tett says:
... Girls who play sport at school learn at a young age that it is acceptable to compete aggressively. They also discover that success does not depend on looking good and that it can be acceptable to take pleasure in winning. That might seem an obvious point, at least to an adult man. But it is not so self-evident to young girls who are exposed to modern Hollywood teen – or tweenie – culture. Indeed, when I look at the cultural messages that kids receive now from films and television, compared with my own childhood, I suspect that girls need sports today more than ever. Being an athlete is one of the few socially accepted ways for teenage girls to compete, without peer criticism.