Fighting Gender Stereotypes in Sport

When Summit panelist Amy Bream discovered boxing, she got so much more

Amy Bream knows what it means to face challenges. Born with a limb deficiency, she’s never known what it’s like to have two legs. Being fit for a new prosthesis meant learning how to walk all over again. Walking with a prosthesis meant drawing attention to herself in ways that were uncomfortable in a whole different way. And yet, Amy is one of the fiercest athletes we know.

She lifts, she boxes, she rock-climbs, she paddle-boards, she runs, she inspires. She’s also the operations director for TITLE Boxing Nashville and the creator of One Leg to Stand On, where she shares frank observations and encouraging stories about her journey.

Amy will be joining us at the Women’s Leadership Summit on March 19 for a panel discussion about the role of sports in activating potential. She’s definitely qualified to speak on the topic, because it was the discovery of sports (boxing, in particular) that activated her “anything’s possible” mentality. Keep reading to see why you won’t want to miss Amy at the Women’s Leadership Summit.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: Looking back on your career so far, what is one of the greatest challenges you have faced, and how did you overcome it? 

AMY: Learning how to calmly handle fast-paced, stressful environments without negatively affecting the staff I manage. Most of my management positions have been in smaller companies that are prone to lots of last-minute changes and constant adjustments, which is difficult for my Type A personality who prefers to stick to a schedule and well-organized plan.

I learned to be flexible and deal with situations calmly by looking at the “bigger picture” when I wanted to stress or panic. Now, I am much more capable of taking a step back from the details of the moment to see the most important factors and make the best of every situation. On the most stressful days, I take breaths and remember that life will always go on, there will always be 24 hours to every day, there are lessons to be learned from every stressful situation, and tomorrow starts fresh.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: What do you believe is lacking in your industry in terms of opportunities for women? And how do we change it?

AMY: In fitness in particular, I think the biggest obstacles are in addressing the stereotypes that come with women in the fitness world. These stereotypes can prevent women from being taken seriously as knowledgeable, capable fitness professionals. Things like oversexualizing women in fitness, promoting an unhealthy body image and lifestyle, and combating the stigma that women in a gym setting are catty and tear each other down—all of these things need to change.

Like most things in life, I think the most powerful way of addressing an issue is to live by example. If I don’t like something but am unsure of how to change the big picture, the very first way I can promote change is to live out the change I want to see.

Fitness for me is about gaining confidence and inner/outer strength rather than sexual appeal. I present myself that way in the way I speak about myself, what I wear, and how I interact with people in the gym.

I work hard to promote balance, hold myself accountable to a balanced lifestyle, and be honest with others when I’m struggling or when I see an issue.

And I make it a point to encourage other women in the gym. When I want to make an assumption about a woman I encounter in fitness, I try to have a conversation with her and get to know her. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I realize my unfair assumptions were incorrect.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? And does it still ring true today?

AMY: My parents instilled the ideas of hard work and integrity in me since I was a child. They’d always tell me that someone is always watching, whether or not you realize it, and if you’re given a task, do it with integrity and to the absolute best of your ability. I’ve had several conversations about this with current coworkers and one of my bosses, especially as I stepped into a management role and it was suddenly my turn to oversee and watch how the employees I managed handled the seemingly small tasks I assigned to them.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: What career advice would you give your younger self today?

AMY: Be open to change. Don’t put yourself into a box of what your ideal career path or role should be. Wise people you encounter in your life may be able to see qualities in you that you haven’t seen before—listen to them and don’t tune them out. 

Follow Amy on Instagram for instant inspiration, and don’t forget to secure your spot at the Women’s Leadership Summit on March 19. Proceeds underwrite scholarships that let any girl, regardless of ability to pay, participate in Play Like a Girl programs.

Ryleigh: Giving Girls a Voice and Hope for the Future

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities. Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age

Ryleigh, 11


Rutland Middle 


Mt. Juliet

Favorite Sport


Favorite STEM Subject


Words you live by

“I think beauty comes from knowing who you actually are. That’s real beauty to me.” —Ellen DeGenerous

Your hero 

My mom is my hero. She works super hard for my sister and me!

[bctt tweet="Ryleigh, age 11, has been boxing for just a few months. When she puts her gloves on she feels strong and confident. As she begins to hear the music in the gym and practice her drills, she becomes determined and focused." username="iplaylikeagirl"]

What is her superpower? Building people up and helping them feel strong and confident.

How is she potential, realized?

It’s never too early — or too late – to raise girls to be bold and courageous. That’s the story of 11 year-old Ryleigh who aspires to build a world free from gender bias, with equal voice and equal representation for girls everywhere. 

Ryleigh became a Student Ambassador at Play Like a Girl in 2019, with the goal to help give voice to girls in her school and community who don’t believe they have what it takes to succeed as athletes or scholars. Recently, she recalled her first time at a Play Like a Girl program and how much she enjoyed learning and trying new things--specifically, learning to turn failure into fearlessness.  

Because of the confidence she’s gained from her Play Like a Girl experience, Ryleigh told us she feels she can now “help change the way girls think about themselves and help them to be positive about what they can accomplish in STEM and in sports.”

Ryleigh is new to boxing which she says helps her get regular exercise while building a stronger relationship with her mother, Ashley, who introduced her to the sport. Boxing also has taught her to be more introspective. A Mt. Juliet native, she says that boxing like the female STEM role models she’s met during her time at Play Like a Girl inspired her commitment to being extra supportive of other girls her age. 

“I want girls to know they can do anything they put their minds to,” she said. “I want to help them follow their dreams and learn to never give up, and to celebrate one another. When girls come together, we are stronger and better. We are unstoppable!"

Ryleigh loves math but initially feared the very concept of coding. Then, she had the opportunity to code a fun game with the girls she met at Play Like a Girl STEM+ Camp which she believes is a distinct skill that will lead her to a job in her chosen field some day.

In the past year, Ryleigh has continued to learn more coding skills at her school as well as in STEM+ Saturday makerspace labs at Microsoft and Play Like a Girl. According to Ryleigh, coding events like these have helped to build skills she will need to be successful in high school, college, career and beyond.

“I am a nice person who likes to meet new people and make new friends. I am caring and like to help people through their troubles,” Ryleigh said. “The biggest thing that keeps me motivated is the fact that I have a little sister. She is watching.”

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.