Fairness and Equality: actions speak louder than words.

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Fairness and Equality: actions speak louder than words.

Postby HayleyOates » Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:04 pm

Happy New Year to you all. And now for the rant. Please take no offence; I'm just opening this topic up for conversation and hope to offend no one.

Let me get straight to the point: women's racing. Coming from a sporty background and more recently a triathlon one I'm used to sports that believe in equality for both sexes and equal prize money (if any is dished out which often is not the case!) so when I entered the world of cycling I took it to heart that it is the race director's discretion whether or not lady's prizes are equal to men's.

At an open TT in 2015 I had a conversation with a lady (so I'm not pointing my fingers solely at men when I say this) regarding the decision-making and thought processes that go on behind the scenes at cycling events. The lady said to me in a slightly condescending tone (as she was aware I was new to the world of cycling), 'But if 20 men enter a race and only 5 ladies enter then there's a bigger pool of money coming from the men so they should get larger sums of cash for prize money'. That niggled, so I questioned, 'But why not just put all the money together and distribute equally?' She went on to explain that, 'If there's more men racing then the winning male should go away with a larger prize because of a bigger field'. Again, being a woman in a largely male-based sport, I had to sound like an argumentative child, 'But why should a lady who's won - who's made her lungs gasp and her quads burn and put just as much effort into the race as any male - not get the same amount of recognition and prize money as a man, just because the event hasn't appealed to as many women?' She wasn't sure how to respond. Personally, it hurts and belittles the likes of my, and many other, women's efforts and all the training that goes behind the race results. It sounds like an out-dated way of thinking and needs to be challenged.

Please welcome Challenger Hayley.

I was impressed with the Annual Awards last year but whilst scanning the prize list I couldn't help but notice the large amount of male prize winners - and I'm certainly not trying to take any credit from any of the winners as they all had an amazing season! My issue was that for many of the awards on offer not many can be won by a woman. For instance, unless HHCC gets a world class female cyclist, or a male doesn't race, in the below races then there is not a slight chance that a woman can win the:

- fastest time over 100 miles
- fastest time over 25 miles
- fastest time over 10 miles
- TT club's all-rounder (if this is only taking in consideration of fastest times of TTs)
- winner of Hilly TT
- hill climb championship

The majority of male cyclists I converse with would actually love to see more women racing but something needs to change. I'm saying this now because there's luckily plenty of time to get trophies lined up for December and new championship titles readied.

I guess I could have just said right at the beginning, 'Can we just get some awards that women can honestly win without it being either a Handicap award or a Ladies TT award?' It will make us feel better about ourselves.

Is there any chance that we can alter/improve the way we encourage/support/recognise women riders so that not only we can feel proud of our racing achievements but the club can too? An idea being:

- fastest time over 100 miles (female trophy and a male trophy)
- fastest time over 25 miles (female trophy and male trophy)
... you get the point.

I would love to see HHCC ahead of the cycling game and would like to hear any feedback. As I said in my opening statement: this is not intended to ruffle any feathers but I'm sure it will so please don't take it personally.


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Paul Thomson
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Re: Fairness and Equality: actions speak louder than words.

Postby Paul Thomson » Fri Jan 08, 2016 5:54 pm

In terms of the Hemel open promotions, we already do recognise women equally in terms of the top prizes... typically the winner gets the same as the men. That normally follows down the order too. What tends to happen is that means prizes go down further. For example the men would get 10 prizes verses the women 5. But the womens 5 prizes would equal the top 5 mens prizes. This is a fairer way of distributing the prize fund in a race where men outnumber the women by far more than 2:1.

The Hemel's own annual awards do have a disparity in terms of the fastest awards, so the fastest 10, 25, 50 and 100. As you point out then unless no men ride those distances then a woman is unlikely to win them.
Most of those trophies date back to a time when very few women anywhere raced that much, let alone lots of women in the same club. Until the last 5 or so years I would say that it was rare within the club that we had any more than 2 or 3 women race in any one year, and for a number of those years it was one or none. In effect there was no competition.

However we do and always have had a womens best all rounder trophy. Last year (2015) it was won by Sarah Williamson (indeed she picked it up at the dinner in November). It is not based upon the same distances as the mens trophy.
There is no separate trophy for the mid-season hill for women. But it has been won outright by a woman in the past. I know because I rode it and she beat me! But that would be a rare event.

We do have a separate women points trophy for the club 10 series. Won by Ruth Grint in 2015.
The handicap trophy can be won equally by either sex. Again last year Ruth won it. She is not the first woman to have won it either, and I doubt the last.
The vets best all rounder can also be won by women as the vets system means women and men should be able to compete relatively equally. Helen Reynolds won it in 2014.
We have recognised the fastest woman in the hill climb for the last few years. In all the time I have been in the club it is only in the last few years that any women rode it. So I think we were quick to pick up on it and present something for it, but as yet it is not a full trophy.

In the Club Champions page of the website, where we do have a trophy it is listed, and even where there is no trophy for women we have tried to acknowledge the fastest or best woman too, where known.

For a sport that has a very long history, you are right in thinking that on the whole we are lagging behind some of the more modern sports (like the extremely young sport of triathlon!), but as a club I do think we are ahead of the game compared to the sport in general, although we do have some way to go yet.

Paul Thomson
Racing Secretary

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