The NFL has hired its first full-time female referee.
Sarah Thomas has been officiating football games 16 years ago, starting with high school games. She rose up the ranks to officiating college football in 2007, and she became the first woman to officiate a bowl game in 2009. Now, she has earned a full-time spot as a referee for the NFL, reports CBS.
Thomas is one of eight new officials hired by the NFL.
She told CBS that she never set out to be a role model.
“I know a lot of people a lot of females are maybe inspired that there’s a gender barrier that’s been broken,” she said. “I never set out to shatter the glass ceiling.”
She also admitted that football players certainly notice the difference when she walks out onto the sidelines.
“Yeah, sure, when I walk up and I have mascara on and maybe some lip gloss, they notice the difference,” she said.
Ironically, Thomas said when she was a young athlete, she could not stand referees, so she understands where the athletes are coming from when they talk back to her.
“I just try to let him know … I’m doing a job,” she said.
A woman named Shannon Eastin used to work as an NFL ref for a brief stint in 2012, but she was not a full-time employee.