Rebecca Morley shares her thoughts after 18 months in the trade
It’s clear to see how much women are underrepresented in the cycling industry. From events and festivals to meetings and factory tours, I constantly find myself in a male-dominated environment, where it can be very intimidating to walk into a room and see so few women around. This happens the most at trade shows – with some I meet assuming I may not have much technical knowledge about the industry.
At first, it felt like I was entering an exclusive club and, while most people have been welcoming, I’m not surprised other women may be reluctant to enter. Sometimes I feel as if I have to prove myself when having conversations, that I need to pass some kind of test.
This year’s CORE was my second time visiting the show – and I was more confident in walking around knowing that I’d done it all before. But I’ve had mixed responses when I’ve brought up gender inequality at events, with some people praising me for being there and others seemingly not realising that it’s a problem that still exists.
While most do acknowledge the issue and know that the industry should do something to change, the ones who don’t seem quite convinced I should use being a woman to my advantage – and proceed to call me ‘darling’ in the process.
In general, however, the gender gap is recognised, as are the attempts to put it right. Since I started at BikeBiz a year and a half ago, I’ve seen more and more initiatives aimed at increasing women’s participation in cycling, including Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling, which I was lucky enough to be nominated for. The event was a fantastic opportunity to meet so many inspiring women and recognise what they are doing to encourage more to ride.
The London Bike Show and Cycling UK have joined forces to launch the inaugural Women’s Cycling Awards. It’s always good to see something that celebrates female talent and achievements from across the cycling world, inspiring others to get active.
But how much will the cycling industry, in turn, be affected? Hopefully, with a growing number of female riders, more companies will hire women too, after all, seeing there are no female employees in a business can be quite daunting for a woman who wishes to take up cycling.
It’s about making sure women aren’t spoken to in a patronising way – and the industry trying to break away from gender stereotypes that see bikes dressed up in flowers and other typically ‘girly’ decorations. During my first week on the job I was invited to a ‘fancy women’s’ bike ride’, which encouraged women to dress up and smile for the cameras, and it’s hard to see how this is helping the cause.
BikeBiz itself has created a nice bubble for me as a female in the industry. I would encourage women wishing to enter the industry to find a company which is supportive and encouraging, where their contribution is valued. The women I have met have all been great role models – and it’s encouraging to see so many strong women pushing the industry forward.