Historically, mountain biking is a male-dominated sport, so snapshots of professional cyclists often do not provide a complete representation of women’s views and opinions. Women’s participation in mountain biking has certainly grown significantly in recent years, however the women’s competitive side of the sport remains less developed than the men’s side. In this survey, 58.6% of cyclists were male, while the remaining 41.4% of respondents are female (that’s 2% more than last year, wow!). This article dives into the specifics of those 63 professional cyclists who gave us feedback on the state of the sport.
Most women surveyed feel they have experienced sexism in sport
Only 25.1% of professional women would say they have not experienced sexism on mountain biking. That’s pretty grim, even though it’s about 5% higher than last year. The numbers tell us that most professional female mountain bikers feel that have experienced sexism in sport.
Women want companions in the wings
We asked these women what they would like to see in mountain biking to make it more inclusive for professional female mountain bikers. We received a great mix of responses.
Women want to see more of their gender represented not only in the gates, but also in the field as part of the fabric of the industry. Women commentators, women officials, women mechanics and team personnel are wanted, as well as women on factory teams and working on the World Cup circuit. The women would like to see their peers as mechanics, crew chiefs and sponsors. One survey participant also noted that there is a need to educate commentators on how to talk to female athletes, as well as a need to educate brands on how to celebrate female athletes. without sexualizing them in its marketing.
For enduro-specific riders, more opportunities are being sought to allow women to run their own program, rather than having to join a team. In general, women feel that the sponsorship money seems to be there for the higher ups, but it doesn’t seem to trickle down through the ranks. Some women also mentioned that it would be wonderful to see the women’s final as the ‘grand final’, as opposed to the men’s. Women are aware that their events are scheduled in advance, citing that this gives them far less visibility and viewership compared to men, which fuels the cycle of less exposure and lower pay.
Speaking of which, professional women say there’s a pay gap (and they’re right)
More than half of the women surveyed responded ‘strongly agree’ with the statement ‘there is a gender pay gap in mountain biking’. Another 30.8% responded ‘agree’, bringing the total number of responses to 83.1%. 12.3% were neutral, 3.1% disagreed and 1.5% strongly disagreed. They estimate that they earn 30-50% less than their male counterparts, and the response comparison chart proves it.
When asked ‘Is mountain biking your only income or do you have to have another job to support yourself?’ 47.62% answered yes. However, for more than a third of the women surveyed, less than 20% of their salary is guaranteed, with the rest made up of prize money and other bonuses. About 24% of men reported that approximately 100% of their salary is guaranteed, compared to just 13% among women. 18 of the women reported a salary in the 60-80% category, compared to 29 men.
Most women want to run on the same tracks as men
In response to the statement ‘The course should be the same regardless of gender’, 52.4% strongly agreed, 34.9% agreed, 9.5% responded neutrally and 3.1% did not agree. No one strongly disagreed.
The vast majority of the women surveyed think that men and women should run on the same circuits. Many of them feel that in order to promote equality and respect for women, it is important to understand that despite men’s physiological differences, professional women in this sport are extremely capable and can compete on the same tracks as men. Women’s mountain biking is rapidly evolving as more opportunities are provided to women and the sport develops further. It seems that big jumps and twisty courses are here to stay, which is exactly what most women want.
Overall, the women we surveyed acknowledged that changes are being made in the industry for the better. Being able to race on the same tracks (86% voted outright for men and women to ride the same track) was celebrated for giving women runners visibility and credibility. More women’s events are desired to attract more women to the sport and racing scene so that the field of competitors grows and justifies equal pay for professional (and at this point probably still semi-pro) racers.
Women are fiercely competitive
Women are also fiercely competitive, with 41.46% wanting to be not just the best they can be, but the best in the world. world in his discipline. Ultimately, there are still fewer women on the starting line, leading to smaller fields. 73.3% of women would support legislation to diversify the professional field, such as an elite UCI trade team having at least 2 of the following: a man, a woman and a junior.
It seems that many of the professional women we surveyed would like to be valued based on competitive results, rather than social media following or other metrics. We saw similar comments from the men’s side of the survey. It’s important to recognize that the competitive mountain bike scene is subsidized by brands that want to sell their products, and that riders and brands aren’t always motivated by the same things. Brands that hire runners to sell things will always be at odds with runners who feel their only job is to compete, regardless of gender.
Only 2 women surveyed felt their sponsors valued their feedback on product testing and media coverage of events, with consistent results and an active social media presence being the most valued.
Women are in favor of unions
93.5% of the women surveyed agree with the idea of a motorcycle union, and 81% of the women feel that a union would be beneficial to their interests. 79% of all women also feel that each discipline should have a separate cycling union, with 59% of women agreeing or strongly agreeing that the cycling union was a direct response to a lack of support, communication and transparency of the UCI and Discovery (37). % were neutral, with only 4% disagreeing).
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