It is no secret that women are underrepresented in the cycling industry. According to Cycling UK, only one million women in the UK cycle regularly – just 3% of the population, with many more bike journeys made by men than women.
Imagine the difference that could be made to the sport and the industry by encouraging more women to cycle – after all, we are potential customers and employees for your business. But how is the industry itself catering to the women who work in it? Is the gap really closing or is there still a long way to go? Rebecca Morley got in touch with five women from different areas of the trade to find out how they got into the industry, what their experiences have been and what more could be done.
Today, we hear from Pippa Wibberley, managing director at Raleigh UK.
Tell us about how you got into the cycle industry.
Like many of my colleagues, it is ‘Raleigh’ that made me want to work for Raleigh. After I joined I got to know the global brand choice that we offer as a business with Haibike, Lapierre and Diamondback and the expertise and scale we have in growth markets such as e-bikes and global P&A brands – I could then see just how big the opportunity was for us!
What’s been your proudest moment so far?
To be honest I work with a fabulous team of talented individuals and one or all of them make me proud every day. If I must name one, then it has to be a few months ago when we got to the end of our second Pedalfest event – a fantastic festival of cycling that we hold at Sherwood Pines. Colleagues across the business had worked so hard all weekend to give more than 12,000 consumers a truly amazing cycling experience with test rides. We were all exhausted, but we had achieved something special together.
What are your experiences of being a woman in the cycling industry?
I was a little disappointed when I started working in the industry because women are pretty dramatically underrepresented. I have always worked in male-dominated industries – automotive, motorcycles, domestic heating and air conditioning and the sad thing is fewer women hold senior positions in this industry than any of the others I have worked in. I attended a Bicycle Association Leadership Meeting about 18 months ago and Isla Rowntree did a little cheer – finally she was not the only woman. It’s progress at least. I have also attended events where men assume I am the wife of our financial director. That can get a bit boring – but it’s their problem, not mine. Beyond that, I don’t notice it really. I don’t view my gender as relevant. I just get on with the job.
Could we be doing much more to encourage women into the industry?
I think flexible working is really important and something I encourage at Raleigh – for men and women. If we have women working full time they are invariably juggling career development, childcare, after school activities, a million mundane life chores, often additional study etc. I know what it is like – been there, done that. Making it possible to work hours around this crazy life means that we now have women mechanics in our workshop, our head of marketing is a woman and we have some fantastically talented women in technical, digital and creative roles.
The sport side of the industry is a mixed bag. We still have to watch the Giro winner have his kids pushed out of the way on the podium, so the girls paid to kiss him on the cheek can fulfil their contractual obligations – how are we not moving on from that? On the flip side, we have some super fabulous role models like Laura Kenny – what a legend!
What advice would you give to women entering the industry, what would it be?
The same advice I would give anyone on their career.
1. If you’re not enjoying it, stop and do something else. You are too long a work to do something you hate, and you won’t be the best you can be either. There are always options. Seek them out for yourself and make them happen.
2. Never take a job based on the pay or the job title. Take it because the challenge excites you and you truly think you can make a difference. The rest will follow.
Robyn Bowie, 2pure