Mansfield chief executive Carolyn Radford claims football is still “full of dinosaurs” and believes she is treated differently to men who act in the same role.
Radford, 36, has been running the Stags for seven years alongside her husband John – who is chairman of the Sky Bet League Two outfit.
With campaigns such as the #MeToo movement aiming to tackle sexism across all walks of life, there has been a largely positive reaction to correcting the imbalance.
But Radford has revealed she is still on the receiving end of unprofessional behaviour due to her sex.
Asked if she is still patronised, Radford told BBC 5Live’s Wake Up to Money: “Absolutely, yes – all the time.
“It is very much under the radar and I pick up on it. I do a very good job within my role. When you walk into a room and someone’s like, ‘oh, you look gorgeous today’ … I don’t think they’d say that to another man.
“What do you say to that? It is obviously not a very appropriate thing to say. It just goes right over my head.
“For example if I go into a boardroom, a lot of the time I’ll be talking to other chairmen of other football clubs or other executives at a high level and they’ll choose to just smile if I say anything, and talk to my husband.
“Then we’ll be coming home in the car and I think: ‘What is this about? Why is our sport so full of dinosaurs?’ But hopefully things should start to change soon.”
Radford is just one of three women tasked with running one of the 92 clubs across the four professional divisions in England.
She admits she did not expect to be on the receiving end of the patronising behaviour she has witnessed and believes it may stop other women wanting to do similar jobs.
“I came into the role completely not expecting the reaction I got, I have had to knuckle down and keep my head down. I wanted my reputation to be based on my achievements,” she added.
“A young woman gives a very different perspective to a middle-aged man. My inputs are as equally as valid.
“I just think, ‘okay, it’s their problem, not mine’. But equally, is it preventing other women from getting involved in the sport, in the fact that I’m not standing up and saying actively: ‘No, this isn’t good enough’?”