Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) president Pat McQuaid has presented a speech at the World Conference on Women and Sport in Los Angeles, USA, this week dealing with the issue of gender equality within cycle sport.

During the speech, McQuaid outlined the advances made by the UCI in creating and integrating women’s events into professional cycling – but said that there was still a lot more work to be done in preventing the prejudice and discrimination of women.

“Women are challenged by many barriers based on prejudice – not only within a political, economic and social framework but equally within the local, national and international sports environment,” said McQuaid during his speech entitled ‘Equal opportunities: How to make it happen’.

“This is particularly true for endurance sports which have at times in history, including in modern history, been considered too difficult or even harmful for women,” he continued.

“The heritage of these stereotypes has been damaging to the advancement of women and it has deeply affected decades of coverage by sport media, decisions of sport organizations, access to education and the participation of girls and women in recreational and competitive sport.”

Last year, British professional cyclist Emma Pooley openly attacked ‘sexism’ in cycling, saying that the UCI had been “extremely backward” in addressing the issue.

In January, Australian professional Chloe Hosking was forced to apologise to McQuaid after calling him “a dick” for saying that there should be no minimum wage for female cyclists, as there is for male riders.

In his speech, McQuaid outlined the work that the UCI has undertaken in recent decades to strengthen the position of women in cycle sport.

He cited the addition of women’s cycling events to the Olympic Games, culminating in the decision to create equal numbers of cycling events for men and women at the 2012 Games in London, as an example of the advances made to eliminate discrimination.

“Female athletes from a large number of nations have now won Olympic medals in cycling disciplines which means that Olympic role models have been created for girls and women across the globe and the number of role models can be expected to grow significantly in 2012 given that there will be more women’s cycling medals up for grabs in London,” said McQuaid. 

Despite this – and although the Olympic disciplines themselves are equal – the London 2012 road race test event last August only featured a men’s race.

McQuaid quoted that the number of elite women cyclists has increased 153 per cent since the inception of the UCI Women’s World Cup road race series in 1997. He also said that television interest in the womens World Cup has grown across Europe, Asia and Australasia.

Working conditions for women professional cyclists were also dealt with, with McQuaid citing the introduction of the scrutiny of women’s teams to ensure they adhere to UCI criteria for financial guarantees.

More introspectively, McQuaid stated that the UCI has committed to an internal equal opportunities policy, with 49 per cent of current employees being female.

Rather than resting on its laurels, McQuaid admitted that “much work remains to be done and the UCI is committed to creating better visibility for women and to providing the best possible conditions for the development of women’s cycling.” 

“To quote a thinker who has had no small affect on changing the world: Albert Einstein who put it quite simply when he said ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving’

“Even if riding a bicycle is somewhat easier than moving forward with change, let us keep up the momentum so that we get our balance right.”

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A transcript of the full speech is available for download from the UCI website

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Pooley attacks cycling’s sexism

  • Colnago dave

    Interesting that out of the 5 comments posted, not one female response, maybe that tells us something !

  • steve clarke

    Totally agree with all the previous comments.
    Yes, Nicole’s win in the last Olympics was one of the most exciting cycle races I’ve seen on TV in years.
    More coverage of womens cycling needs to happen…. over to you Cycling/Sportive weekly!

  • dai bananas brothert

    The most exciting and newsworthy event in the last Olympics by a country mile was the Womens Road Race, remember that? Nicole Cooke, remember her? when was her name last mentioned in the press.

  • Tim

    What is it about the other 50% of the human race who also cycle and who receive little coverage, let alone a cover shot on a magazine? Many women cycle at weekends, throughout the week and more. Quite simply, they should be included and are not. I do feel that women’s magazines in general could do more to push women’s sport, and I’ll be biased and request lots of cycling coverage.

    The World Tour gets massive coverage for the men. What about the women’s World Cup, well, very little indeed and why still a World Cup? There’s disparity there straight away. Lots of detail all over the place about men’s bikes, teams, and riders but nothing about the same for the women. Why ever not? The women ride Campagnolo, Shimano, SRAM and all the big bike brands too.

    It’s quite simple, create a World Tour for women as well as equal parity on the track. Women still (as seen at the weekend) have only three in the pursuit squad, why not four?

    Women should have three week grand tours just like the men, and they did many moons ago. What’s changed? Many forget, these women are professionals and that means they do what they do every single day and they get paid for it. Just like the men.

    It’s really not that difficult to make this happen for women it just requires action.

  • Ken Evans

    Britain has some of the top women racers in the world,
    including Cooke, Pooley, etc., but still it is hard to find big UK sponsors
    to support them.

    Brands such as Sky, Halfords, Chain Reaction, Wiggle, Parker, etc,
    should be doing more.

    After the 2012 Olympics in London if British women racers don’t become big stars
    then they never will.

    The lack of profile that a women’s Tour De France could provide,
    is also lacking.

    Triathlon seems to be be more popular with female competitors, and sponsors.

  • Colnago Dave

    I think it is worthwhile remembering that whilst women in cycling are underpaid compared to men that even in the mens peleton sponsors are hard to get and there are good, clean riders without a contract.
    There is also an issue that the minimum wage for a male domestique is not high.
    If we compare the costs of running say Sky to that of Manchester United it is hugely different and I am sure that the gate receipts do not generate the funds needed to operate

    You just have to look at HTC to see how difficult it is to get a committed sponsor on board. The sad truth is that womens cycling does not generate the same level of interest as the men. Even when they ride the female equivalents of the Classics or Tours the distances are half that of the mens so that is also an arguement that can be applied to the set wage standard.

    Do the teams need to look at a different marketing strategy similar to Football where they get revenue from items such as team strips as I could never understand how Coca Cola could justify paying huge amount of money to stars to endorse their products and be convinced that the perceived increased sales justified it.
    I also do not believe that the UCI can influence the minimum wage if there are no sponsors out there,and to state that they are committed to equal opportunities and have a 49% female staff does not address the girls concerns regarding a minimum wage.

    To finish were the GB girl cyclists brilliant at the weekend along with the men