Why Stephanie McMahon Had to Fight ‘That Much Harder’ to Prove She Belonged at WWE

Professional wrestling is dominated by men – but a woman is behind it all.

ByNatasha Singh
February 02, 2016, 8:51 AM

— -- It’s no secret that the world of professional wrestling is dominated by men, but a woman is playing a key role in transforming the image of one of its most iconic organizations: the WWE.

Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of WWE legend Vince McMahon, is the company’s chief brand officer.

“Women play an integral role in WWE, both in the corporate side as well as, you know, on television ...,” McMahon told “Good Morning America”’s Amy Robach. “There's a lot of girl power at WWE. And we're proud of it.”

The interview was part of Robach’s #GIRLPOWER series, which highlights women and girls who are agents of change in fields ranging from humanitarian and public service to business and the arts.

The WWE Network -- a video streaming service -- launched in 2014. It is in more than 180 countries and has 1.3 million subscribers, and the goal is to take the network to the rest of the world within the next 18 months, McMahon said.

Robach asked McMahon about what women contributed in the male-dominated world of wrestling.

“I think what women bring to the table is perspective,” McMahon replied. “I think that it's so important for women to have a voice at the table and in the room. And oftentimes, women feel insecure, like they don't belong at the table with men. And why? Is your opinion any less valuable than anybody else's? No. It's actually more valuable because you're the only woman ... And I think that the best way to really come to the best decision is to have that diversity in the room.”

Robach asked McMahon whether she had to fight particularly hard for anything because of her gender.

“I think not only because I'm a woman, but because I'm the boss's daughter, there is a perspective that everything's been handed to me. So that makes me have to work and fight that much harder to prove why I belong,” she said.

McMahon fought her way up the ladder. She started out as an intern and even developed an on-air story line in the ring, playing a character that people love to hate.

“I think that there's nothing more fun than what I get to do. WWE's mission is to put smiles on people's faces. Now, those smiles are usually at my expense in my character role, because I play a villain. I'm mean. I am really hateful,” she said, chuckling. “So it's good if you don't like me when you're watching the show, it means I'm doing my job.”

Behind the scenes, McMahon said she loves being able to represent the brand before diverse audiences and venues.

“It's an amazing opportunity,” she said.

McMahon has three daughters, and under her leadership, more than 40 percent of WWE viewers are now women.

“I hope that my daughters see that you can be a strong, confident woman who's not afraid to go out and have new experiences ... I'm showing my daughters that a woman can do anything,” she said.

Robach asked McMahon whether she struggled to balance being a mother and an executive.

“Absolutely I struggle with it ... I'm no different than anybody else. And it's never going to be perfect. Sacrifices have to happen along the way, whether it's a sacrifice at work or a sacrifice, you know, at home,” she said.

She laughingly added: “But ... where I think women can be better at home is allowing our husbands to do more.”

McMahon’s husband is fellow wrestler, Triple H. Together they’re paving a new path for women in wrestling and are fighting against stereotypes with the Divas Revolution, the umbrella term used by the WWE to refer to its female performers.

“The Divas Revolution came where ... we embraced our fans who asked us to do more with our female performers, to feature them as athletes, to give them more meaningful characters and story lines,” McMahon said. “They're not just eye candy, we want more. And we are doing everything we can to super serve that need.”

McMahon said she believes “girl power” is about confidence.

“Even when we aren't aware that we're having an impact, we are. Little girls who see, you know, women in the ring, or they see strong female characters, that's just the way it is. There's no reason why they can't be like that. You know, I think that us just having that presence means more than we even realize,” she said.

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