The pressure of paving the way
It's taken six months as top dog, but the "blokes" in the National Rugby League finally think Bulldogs boss Raelene Castle is "all right".
Castle said her biggest achievement since taking over as Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs chief executive last year was that the men in the league were over that fact that she was a woman and had accepted her. Now they were interested in whether she had the skills and capabilities to do the job, she said.
Castle, who is in New Zealand for this weekend's Auckland National Rugby League (NRL) Nines, said she had faced challenges in the job because of her gender, but in New Zealand women could do anything. "No- one will say you can't do it."
There were opportunities for Kiwi women to take on the top jobs in sport but they needed to be brave enough to step forward and be willing to make sacrifices.
"You have to want to do the job and you have to hold your hand up. You can't appoint someone if they don't actually apply."
Castle, who had held the top job at Netball New Zealand, said she had been tested by Bulldogs coach Des Hasler. But after six months Hasler and other NRL staff were figuring out where Castle's "line in the sand" was.
Castle said she had also been tested by the Australian media.
"It's really intense and you have to be really careful because it can make or break careers if you get it wrong.
"There's a much bigger target on my back than I ever thought there would be."
As the NRL's first female chief executive, Castle said she felt the pressure of paving the way for other women to follow. "But I don't think about it, because if you did you'd freak out."
People should be able to get over their "first woman syndrome", but, ultimately, she knew that if the NRL had a positive experience it would be easier for the next woman, Castle said.
However, one of Castle's biggest challenges was building strong business networks in a new market. But she was chipping away at building connections with the "smelly" players and management alike. Building networks was imperative to success. she said.