One of the missions set out in this year’s International Women’s Day global campaign was to “celebrate women athletes and applaud when equality is achieved in pay, sponsorship and visibility”.
In mass participation sporting events, there has been significant advancement in gender equality over the past few years; however, numbers still remain skewed towards men. 63 percent men vs. 37 percent women in triathlon, 60 percent men vs. 40 percent women in marathons and there are even fewer female participants as the distance increases – with female participation standing at only 25 percent in ultramarathons of 100k or longer (Active.com).
This imbalance seemingly divides opinion, with some applauding measures being put in place (e.g. additional race spots for female participants, greater performance incentives and the creation of women only events and clubs) with the aim of increasing female participation. Equally, others see the lower female participation as a lack of interest or inclination from women to take up these sports and so, believe this approach presents an unfair opportunity and encourages positive discrimination.
However, when it comes to the future of endurance sports there is one fact that remains clear – if the number of girls regularly participating in sport doesn’t increase, then we are unlikely to see equal male and female participation in endurance sport in the future. It’s reported, that by age 14 girls are dropping out of sport at twice the rate of boys (Women’s Sports Foundation). The reasons that have been identified for this drop off include discrimination, low self-esteems, lack of encouragement, inactivity amongst peers and a lack of female role models.
We’re proud that LDN Brunch Club has over 80 percent female members in the community, many of whom have joined us as they set out on their journey to train and compete in endurance sports events – including marathons. triathlons and ultra-marathons.
On International Women’s Day, we spoke with them about their experiences with sport in their teenage years. Many said they had either not liked sport at school or had enjoyed being part of various sports teams but dropped off once they left education.
We believe our female members are wonderful role models with the ability to inspire girls and young women to start or continue their own fitness/sport journey. So, we asked them – what words of advice would you give to your younger self, to encourage her to keep participating in sports?
Take a watch of the video to hear what they had to say…