Last month BikeBiz commented on gender equality in the bike trade. Two readers respond...
It’s funny that Jonathon Harker thinks there’s no sexism in the bike industry. There must be some reason why women, as Jonathon acknowledges, don’t ‘feel as welcome as men in the world of cycling and in the trade’.
Unspoken barriers often keep women in the background. Acceptance in the workshop as a competent mechanic can be tough. And for women to be equal participants in sport and everyday cycling, we need to have our say at decision making levels. Leading organisations – CTC, British Cycling, Sustrans – are headed up by men. Which national cycling organisations apart from our own are headed by women?
Pointing to the few fantastic women champions, role models to all cyclists, can be a token gesture unless it’s backed up by female participation across the board. In-built inequality must be excised, as the UCI has for London 2012 by balancing male and female events.
Fortunately, things are changing – half of the representatives at the inaugural meeting of the DfT-approved Instructor Training Organisations in January were women. But pressure still needs to be applied. British Cycling has £1m to encourage cycling amongst women, whilst still having no women on their board: a challenge which was laid down ten years ago. Good practice advocates a minimum of 30 per cent women on boards in all sectors.
Events which target women like Bike Fabulous and health rides for Asian women turn the tables on male domination and those unintended un-welcome vibes. BikeBiz readers could keep the issue snowballing by supporting the latest initiative: 100-100 Glow, aiming to get at least 100 women riding in the Manchester 100 in September. http://100-100glow.blogspot.com
Liz Clarke and Jo Somerset
In the column I wasn’t pushing the view that there is no sexism in cycling, not intentionally anyway. By using the Gray/Keys saga in football I was trying to highlight that while cycling may appear less sexist or biased against women on the surface, there are still huge problems in attracting women to the industry and cycling in general. And, as you rightly point out, having women in more powerful positions in cycling organisations would be a positive step in tackling this long running issue.
Jonathon Harker, Editor