It’s no secret that the cycling industry is male-dominated; from trade shows to press tours, I often walk into a room and instantly notice how few women there are. It can sometimes feel quite intimidating.
But I can’t say I was surprised to find that the cycling industry is this way – almost all sports are the same, or at least, it’s the men’s games that see more promotion. This simply makes the problem worse – how likely are women to enter a sport or trade if they don’t feel represented in it?
Many girls grow up unaware of the numerous opportunities that are out there for them, from a career point of view as well as their general interests, and this ultimately results in them going down a beaten path that is more traditionally female.
But how do the experiences vary for those already working in the bike trade? I reached out to six women to talk about the cycling industry, its gender gap and what more could be done.
Today’s edition: ‘There’s a lot of MAMIL chat which excludes women’
What are your experiences of being a woman in the cycling industry?
It’s been pretty difficult to navigate. There’s a lot of MAMIL chat which excludes women. Events are male-heavy. One of our senior managers attended a BA meeting once and she was the only woman in the room. She’s a pretty, young blonde and as you can imagine, got totally the wrong attention. It’s like going back in time!
Luckily, I entered the cycling industry from a background in IT, so I’m used to a male-heavy industry and so haven’t faced the same challenges someone might face without prior experience.
Do you feel that the gender gap is closing at all, and if not, what more could be done?
Yes, there are more women in previously male-dominated industries, cycling included. There is also more focus on female sports. There are some great role models for young women to turn to. I strongly believe it’s a generation game. We won’t see overnight change, but the more we alter perspective, the more the next generation of both men and women will grow to appreciate and demonstrate equality.
I still see plenty of improvements to be made. One of which is gender stereotyping. I’d like to think we’re raising our son to be kind and caring and our daughter to be outgoing and adventurous, but unfortunately gender stereotyping happens in many ways, from before they are born.
Before a child is born, people buy pink for girls, blue for boys. Having just given birth to a daughter myself (born June 2020), I can vouch for dresses on babies being completely impractical. I find it such a shame that we stereotype children this young. My son, who turned two in September, has a love for cars, trucks, planes and helicopters. He also has a love of dressing dolls, brushing hair and putting make-up on. But low and behold, because he’s a boy, he’s been brought diggers and planes for his birthday from friends and family. Completely ignoring the more ‘human’ and ‘emotional’ side to his interests and instead drawing on the more stereotypically masculine toys.
It’s such a shame that as girls develop into young adults, they are turned off exercise. A pet peeve of mine is the idea of a ‘girls bike’. I would love for someone to enlighten me as to the biological requirements a six-year-old girl has compared to a six-year-old boy.
A lot of the ‘girls bikes’ that swamp the market are heavy, with poor quality parts and more often than not, a terrible riding stance. If society insists on girls being obsessed with pink, then so be it. But ideally, they ride a pink Forme or Frog and decorate it with streamers. This is how we will encourage girls to be more active and enjoy sport.
Turns out I could go for quite a while on this particular question.
If you could give one piece of advice to women entering the industry, what would it be?
Be bold and believe in yourself. Use data and facts to back up your opinion. Learn from others, surround yourself by experts. Be humbly confident.