The NFL just hired their first female ref. Here's why that's huge news.

She's the NFL's first female referee, and here's how she shattered football's glass ceiling.

This football season, there'll be an unfamiliar face running up and down the sidelines: referee Sarah Thomas.

Thomas will become the first woman hired by the NFL as a full-time official, an achievement more than a decade in the making.

Sarah Thomas officiated her first high school football game 16 years ago. Building on her experience, she gradually rose through the football ranks.


By 2007, Thomas had worked her way up to officiating at the top tier of college football. In 2009, she became the first woman to work a bowl game. In 2013, she earned a place alongside 20 other finalists vying for a spot refereeing at the highest level in football: the NFL.

In a 2013 interview, Thomas told a CBS reporter that she never set out to shatter the glass ceiling — but she has. Over and over and over again.

Thomas won't be the first woman to officiate a game, but she will be the first hired full-time by the NFL.

In 2012, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association were involved in a contract dispute and, unfortunately, were not able to reach an agreement before the season started. The NFL used non-union replacement refs, one of whom was Shannon Eastin, a lower-level college ref who hadn't gone through the NFL's development program.

On September 9, 2012, Eastin worked her first NFL game between the St. Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions.

On September 26, 2012, the NFL and NFLRA came to an agreement, and Eastin's time in the NFL was over.

Women have been making themselves heard in the male-dominated sporting world — especially in recent years.

In 1997, Violet Palmer became the first woman to referee an NBA basketball game.

That same year, Dee Kantner also officiated NBA games, and for five years, the two were the only women on the court. In 2002, however, Kantner was fired by the NBA, leaving just Palmer. In 2014, the NBA hired Lauren Holtkamp, making her just the third full-time referee in the league's history.

In total Palmer has refereed more than 900 NBA games.

Because of the hard work of people like Palmer, other women have been able to work their way through the ranks.

Palmer knew that, as a pioneer, she had a target on her back. She managed to silence criticism by being one of the league's top referees.

In 2014, basketball's San Antonio Spurs hired Becky Hammon as a full-time assistant coach.

Hammon's hire made her the first woman brought on as a full-time coach in NBA history.

Prior to her hire, Hammon played 16 years in the WNBA, and she was a two-time representative of the Russian Olympic team (2008, 2012).


Like Hammon and Palmer, Sarah Thomas got where she is through years of hard work.

No one can — in good faith — look at someone who's devoted more than a quarter of their life to making it to the top level and argue that she's not fit to hold the job. Thomas climbed the ranks of football officiating, and now she's finally getting her shot. This is a huge achievement absolutely deserving of celebration.

Watch a CBS report on Sarah Thomas below:

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

SK-II

"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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