An unprecedented rise in the number of opportunities to race and ride and a move towards equal prize money is helping to “transform the culture of the sport” British Cycling’s president said today, as the sports governing body published a one year update on its ambitious women’s strategy.
Having set an ambitious target last March to get one million more women cycling by 2020, British Cycling today said that its strategy is “successfully tackling the historical gender imbalance and driving cultural and structural change across the sport.”
Thanks to a dedicated drive that has seen organisers embrace the women’s market, British Cycling today reported that there has been an increase across all competitive and recreational events.
The upcoming Women’s Tour in May – which will be hosted by Tour of Britain organisers, Sweetspot – and the introduction of a one day race as part of the Tour De France in 2014 are welcome additions to the national events scene.
British Cycling is also leading the charge to bring in equal prize money across all disciplines.
At the UCI BMX Supercross event to be held in Manchester in April, all riders finishing 1st to 8th will receive the same prize money in both male and female categories. This move comes a year ahead of other rounds in the BMX Supercross series and ahead of many other countries hosting major events.
Commenting on the news, British Cycling’s president, Bob Howden, said:
“2014 is a really exciting year for women’s cycling with the Women’s Tour, Britain’s first ever UCI level stage-race for women, and the huge increase we’re seeing in racing opportunities for women.
“It truly feels like momentum is now building and we’re starting to successfully tackle the historical gender imbalance. This work is transforming the culture and driving structural change across the sport.
"We currently have world’s most successful women’s track team and a world champion in downhill mountain biking, a European champion in cyclo-cross and leading contenders in road and BMX so the sport an elite level has never been in better health.
“We are working hard to ensure that the avenues to participation are as clear and open as possible for all women looking to get into cycling, whether as a recreational cyclist, a competitor or a commuter.”
The women’s strategy update has coincided with the appointment of two female non-executive directors to join British Cycling’s Board, bringing improved gender representation at the top level of the sport.
Marian Lauder MBE and Alex Russell have been appointed to ensure that British Cycling continues to maximise opportunities for growth, with a particular focus on advising on public affairs, finance and risk management.
Bob Howden added:
“I’m thrilled that we have appointed two female directors to our Board as part of a selection process entirely driven by merit. The need to have more women at all levels of our sport is a key part of the ambition we outlined in our strategy last year. This marks the start of a hugely exciting chapter for British Cycling and Marian and Alex’s key specific expertise will be invaluable as we move forward.
“Our recreational programmes – such as Breeze – are continuing to define success at the grassroots level of the sport. British Cycling’s recent success has been established on the principle of inspiration to participation and nowhere is this now more evident that with women’s cycling.”
The progress made since British Cycling launched its strategy to get one million more women cycling by 2020 includes the following updates:
- Over 84,000 women alone have engaged with recreational cycling programmes.
- The proportion of female participation on our programmes is higher than the national average. Currently the proportion of women cycling once a week for recreational purposes is 27% as measured by the Active People. Of all attendances on British Cycling recreational programmes 40% have been made by women.
- The number of women only road and circuit events continues to increase in 2014 with over 360 events registered to date.
- Female licence holders have been increasing in line with the number of new events with a 17% rise year on year
- Just under 4,000 females have entered a British Cycling registered challenge event so far this year. A 4.5% increase when compared to this time last year.
- Over 37,000 women have attended Sky Ride mass participation events. This represents 36% of total attendances.
- Over 18,000 women have attended female-only Breeze rides. There are now over 800 Breeze Champions actively delivering bike rides across the UK.
- Over the past year, 40% of young participants in Go-Ride sessions are female.
- British Cycling has rolled out Go-Ride sessions for women and girls-only, which are now available in every region of the country. Since being established, the Rider Development Sessions for Women and Girls have provided over 2,300 opportunities for women and girls to take part in the sessions.
- 39 women have been trained as Cycle Training Instructors. This is 41% of the overall number of instructors trained.
- Over the past year, British Cycling has trained 101 female Young Volunteers, which is 50% of the total Young Volunteers trained.
- This year saw the formation of the inaugural National Youth Form, with young women representing seven of the 12 representatives on the forum.