The Buffalo Bills just made history with its new coaching staff hire.

Kathryn Smith is their new special teams quality control coach.

On Jan. 20, 2016, the Buffalo Bills made history by naming Kathryn Smith its special teams quality control coach.

It's the very first time a woman has filled a full-time coaching position in the NFL.


Smith was an administrative assistant to the team's head coach, Rex Ryan, this season and worked by his side the past seven years (six of which were with the New York Jets).


In a statement from the Bills, Ryan said Smith has been "outstanding" and is certainly cut out for the new role.

"She has proven that she's ready for the next step," Ryan explained. "So I'm excited and proud for her with this opportunity."

The news marks another recent (and big!) step forward for women in sports.

Just this past September, Jen Welter set the bar higher when she became the first female coach in NFL history, helping to assist the linebackers for the Arizona Cardinals (it was a temporary intern position — not permanent and full-time, like Smith's).

And in July 2015, Becky Hammon cracked a glass ceiling in the NBA when she coached the San Antonio Spurs during summer league play. That's big!


But don't get too excited. Although this is all welcomed progress, we have a seriously long way to go.

Across all four major pro sports leagues in the U.S., there's still not a single female head coach (and I'd think twice before claiming it's because there aren't enough talented women to take advantage of the opportunity).

Looking at college-level athletics? Well ... the news might be even bleaker: In the NCAA, gender equality in coaching has been going in the wrong direction for years.

Former head coach of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers Pat Summitt is a true legend. In 2006, she became the first woman in NCAA basketball to win 900 career games. Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images.

In 1972, about 90% of all college coaches in women's sports were women. That figure had fallen to just 40% in 2015. And across men's college sports teams, the percentage of coaches who are women — less than 2% — hardly registers a blip on the radar, as USA Today reported in February 2015.

"There are an absolute ton of heartbreaking stories that I hear day in and day out about females that are being forced out [of coaching positions]," Erika True, the head coach of women's soccer at Indiana State University, told the outlet last year. "There is a stigma that females are not as good as or as strong of coaches as their male counterparts."

It's a stigma people like Smith, Hammon, and Welter are helping to discredit each day they head into work.

Still, social progress rarely moves forward in a perfectly straight line. And this week, we have reason to celebrate a significant step in the right direction.

Recent years have seen women gaining ground in business, Congress, and at the box office, too. It's great to know Smith's new job with the Buffalo Bills marks yet another point on the scoreboard for gender equality in sports as well.

Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture