BikeBiz August 2019

Page 15

FEATURE

Closing the gap Cycling UK named its 100 Women in Cycling last month. Rebecca Morley reflects on how this can make steps to improve the gender imbalance within cycling, before hearing from five women about their experiences within the trade

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t’s no secret that women are underrepresented in the cycling industry. When I joined BikeBiz in August last year, the male dominance was immediately apparent. That’s not to say it was unwelcoming – I’ve had mainly positive experiences throughout the past year, with only the occasional moments where I’ve felt patronised. The first – within my first week, incidentally – was the ‘fancy womens’ bike ride’ – an “easy ride” – for which people are invited to dress up and decorate their bikes in pink tassels to raise interest in cycling for women. Irrespective of their noble intentions, events like this are hardly helping the cause! Thankfully, the trade events I’ve been to since have made concerted efforts to address the gender imbalance more appropriately. The 2018 Cycle Show at the NEC targeted the ‘three Fs’ – families, females and first-timers, so it was encouraging to see efforts being made to encourage more women to attend. This year’s London Bike Show also aimed to encourage more women to visit and be inspired to take up or continue riding, and female attendance soared to 29%, up from 16% in 2018. While 29% is still a little way off gender equality, it demonstrates a marked improvement. The London Bike Show also saw Cycling UK launch the 2019 Women’s Festival of Cycling, opening up nominations for its annual 100 Women in Cycling. The list was announced on 1st July at a Parliamentary reception and I was lucky enough to be included. I was nominated

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for being one of the leading female cycle trade journalists, doing what I can to set the industry news agenda with my output. I hope I can use this nomination to not only inspire more women to take up cycling but also to encourage newcomers into the industry, too. According to Cycling UK, it is estimated that only one million women in the UK cycle regularly – just 3% of the population, with many more bike journeys made by men than women. The festival aims to address this imbalance, encouraging more women to get in the saddle. The awards were presented in Westminster, following a ride to the House of Commons by more than 150 women. The ride was led by TV presenter Angellica Bell, who said: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if every female cyclist in this country persuaded just one more woman to take up cycling. Imagine the difference that could make. Cycling is not only one of the most enjoyable ways of getting around, it’s great for your health, fitness and the environment.” She’s right. 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? I 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. n

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