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December 14, 2017
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  • beachroadhack

    I don’t disagree with the equal prize money objective, but wonder if a better medium term measure is to aim for equal investment. The aim is to grow women’s cycling. Depth of talent is a requirement for this to occur. Increasing prize money, only rewards those at the top. Some may say, what’s the point of doing that race, it will cost me $x and I won’t win any money. Why not encourage race organizers to either pay the teams or pay each rider to participate.
    Still have prize money and still aim to have the women’s race receive the same levels of investment as the mens, just distribute it more efficiently.

    At local levels we now offer equal prize money at club races for mens and womens, which is strange as the mens field has lots more competitors. Why doesn’t my club just make the womens race free to enter and reduce the prize money? This would surely increase participation, rather than reward the select few who can train many more hours a week than the others.

    • Greg

      Interesting ideas, but I don’t think the entry fees to local races are really much of a barrier to anyone racing. That’s just my suspicion.

      • Luke Bartlett

        depends, sometimes it can be off putting. in perth its $40 to race a crit if you sign up on the day…

        • Greg

          Yeah, pretty similar here in the U.S. I just made the comment because one day I can see 5,000 women running a half marathon with a $150 entry fee and the next day I’ll go to a crit and there’ll be 6 women in the Cat 4 (beginner) race. 5 of whom will be done with the sport 5 months later. There’s a huge attrition rate with the men too – just many more of them to start with.

    • Greg

      …But I think it’s a good idea to focus on grassroots racing vs. trying to fix the pros first.

  • richardint

    Number one item: equal coverage between men’s and women’s races in the cycling media. Will Cycling Tips commit to a 50/50 word count and airtime split by 2018?

    • The short answer is no, we won’t. It is not commercially viable for this to happen, and unless it is it’s not sustainable. If the traffic and audience that resulted from this was equal, then there would be absolutely no question that we would. But the discrepancy is massive. We give our editors, journalists and contributors equal pay and we get a small fraction of the traffic from it. You’d be asking us to jeopardise our entire business. It’s great that people have so many ideas on how we should spend our money without any consideration for the realties.

      We made it our business to cover women’s cycling, tell stories that connect with females (and males), and it has cost me my personal life savings with no sign of any return. But it’s the right thing to do, even though we make $0 from it. I’m sorry that’s not enough.

      Sadly very few people support what we’re doing with women’s cycling by sharing, reading, spreading the word or giving any attention. They just complain and want more. Thank you to those who do acknowledge our efforts and help us out by viewing our stories and sharing them.

      Can you tell me what are you doing about equality in cycling? What time, money and attention have you spent besides leaving a comment?


      • bigstu_

        Quite a lot of all three actually, so I don’t see the point of censorship. “At Disqus we value curiosity, generosity, being colorful, speaking our minds, and making an impact.” (https://disqus.com/company/) Maybe you should use another comment logger if you don’t subscribe to the Disqus ethos.

        • Greg

          You must be new to the Internet. :) I thought it was a pretty good, direct comment. Didn’t pull any punches, but didn’t cross any lines.

        • David9482

          Censorship?!? Cycling Tips is not censoring Women’s racing, in fact they’re covering it significantly more than other sports websites. Is ESPN censoring women’s sport by not putting WNBA on it’s front page or on it’s Sports Centre broadcasts? Absolutely not. ESPN is not covering WNBA for the same reason it isn’t covering men’s table tennis, because it’s viewership (and sponsors) won’t pay for this coverage. It has nothing to do with prejudices, sexism, inequality, censorship, chauvinism, etc. The facts are very simple, way more viewers want to watch men’s races than women’s races.

          Therefore, Wade Wallace’s response that Cycling Tips won’t cover men’s and women’s racing equally because of commercial viability is the exact same thing.

          In fact, Wade Wallace and Cycling Tips should be applauded for their continued attempts to increase the quality and exposure of women’s cycling. In fact, I’d credit Cycling Tips with 90% of my growing interest in women’s cycling. Their bloggers, coverage, Female Secret Pro, WWT race coverage, etc. are really interesting and have got me very interested in that side of the sport.

          • bigstu_

            Sorry David, my comment about censorship was in reference to something completely different to what you are thinking. I put it in the wrong spot which I’m sure contributed to the confusion. I agree with you that Cycling Tips coverage of women’s cycling always makes for interesting reading.

            • David9482

              Oh my mistake, sorry, I thought after I posted my message that your comment was a little out of context but I had already posted my long-winded response… Honestly, without Cycling Tips, I would have much less interest in women’s cycling, but Cycling Tips’ coverage has been excellent, well written and very interesting.

      • DaveRides

        Speaking as someone who gives up some of my time, money and attention to volunteer for both the WTDU and TDU every January, I’m very happy with the disproportionately large amount of coverage you give to women’s cycling. I’ve appreciated being able to follow it properly, as opposed to other sites where you might get a single interview or puff piece once every few months.

        I thought the WTDU coverage this year was particularly good.

        But could I suggest a one year moratorium on your regular writers telling us that women’s racing is more exciting in every single piece? Repetition isn’t going to make that message any stronger, better to let the races speak for themselves.

        • Simone Giuliani

          Thanks DaveRides. And I’ll happily personally accept your challenge to not write that women’s racing is more exciting than men’s racing in any articles I write over the next year because I don’t think I’ve ever written that!

      • richardint

        Wade, thank you for your answer – it’s enlightening. It’s really great that you’re investing so much – it’s such a shame that the return is so low. Fundamentally, I don’t see the difference between a group of women racing bikes and a group of men racing bikes. The spectacle is the same.

        So here’s the question: why do your readers care so much less about women’s cycling than men’s? It totally defies logic.

        Fancy surveying them to try and find out?

        BTW – the company I work for sponsors a female cycling team: http://www.acquisio.com/blog/acquisio-scoop/acquisio-sponsors-female-cyclist-team/

        • DaveRides

          Maybe the lack of ‘epic’ in women’s road racing plays a part?

          There will be a women’s race on the program for Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year, a first. The problem is that it won’t be the full Liege-Bastogne-Liege, a true classic with a reputation built on the fact that the winner has conquered both the course and his opponents, it will be just the second half of the classic from Bastogne.

          There are UCI rules about the maximum race distance which, despite being increased a bit recently, are still quite short. Women can ride further in a participation event than they are allowed to in a race.

          Maybe the UCI needs to make it known that exemptions shall be granted, or even amend the rules to read “where a women’s race is run in conjunction with a men’s race of the same title, the distance rules for men’s races shall apply.” Respect should grow once they are racing the full length of the great classics.

          • ebbe

            Interestingly, that same argument of doing “the full distance” is often used in CX and MTB (where interest in women’s racing has grown quite fast in recent years). Usually in conjunction with: “If ‘they’ want the same pay, ‘they’ should race the same distance!”

            What is being ignored however, is that it’s precisely that smaller distance that’s one of the key factors contributing to the fact that the women’s races are as – often more – exciting to watch as the men’s (as a fan with no vested interest and not getting paid to write pieces, I’m allowed to make that claim). I’d rather watch “75% distance * exciting” than “100% distance * boring” ;-)

            – Belgian broadcasters claim the viewer numbers of CX women’s events are almost equal to those of the men’s CX event.
            – Obviously, the fact that women’s and men’s races are “bundled”, and only some 45 minutes apart, helps tremendously in CX and MTB. I don’t know if the same would be possible in Road Racing, because of the nature of the events and courses, and the length of the broadcast, but you should be able to get close. Maybe the broadcaster could even switch between the two races, depending on what’s happening in the race. I think it boils down to: Both races have to be broadcast (obviously), and viewers should NOT be forced to choose between the two. Viewers just have to tune in, and then sit and wait for the next broadcast to begin.
            – I looked into “fan engagement” after a discussion about equal pay in CX: The men’s world champion and winner of the UCI World Cup (Wout van Aert – who is Belgian, where CX is religion) actually gets LESS likes and comments on his social media posts than the women’s UCI World Cup winner, who DNF’d at worlds (Sophie de Boer – who is Dutch, where CX is a niche sport). If this is any indication of how many people they bring to the events (and thus bring in money for the organiser), then the women surely deserve pay that shifts more to the equal side of the spectrum.
            – I then tried to look into how many members their respective fan clubs have, but that’s impossible since there’s too many different fanclubs. One thing I did find out: Sophie de Boer has MANY fans in Belgium, they’re extremely active, and do actually come to the events just for her.
            – In order of “most exciting to watch” last CX worlds races were (for me) 1) Women’s U23, 2) Women’s elite, 3) Men’s elite (because of all the flat tires, otherwise it would be 4 or 5) 4) Men’s juniors 5) Men’s U23.
            – Of course there’s many differences between all the various disciplines. But the fans-base should be very similar across, so I’d say If CX and MTB can make it work (sort of), Road should be able to make it work as well.
            – I’m probably a bit spoiled because I’m Dutch, and over here uptake in cycling among women is really quite good, and growing. Likely in a large part because of Marianne Vos, who at 29 is already the greatest cyclist in the world ever (all men included). But if I go out for a ride on a tuesday evening I’d typically see almost as many women out riding as men. It really does start there.

            • richardint

              All really interesting points. I think it comes back somewhat to my original point that more media attention will help women in cycling. I wonder if it’s a chicken and egg situation – you need the media coverage to create the stars that will make spectators want to take interest in the sport.

              There’s a female cyclist I follow here in Canada who’s really, really good on Social Media. It might get to the point where cyclists can bring audience and that might help them advance in the sport in addition to their athletic abilities (this happens today in book publishing).

              International multi-disciplinary events such as the Olympics must help too. We watched the cycling events from London, UK and there was a lot of coverage of the women’s events.

              • ebbe

                Indeed, I completely agree with that. And now that you mention it: I’d say (a reasoned guess) that social engagement is essential for women (more so than for men) in taking up the sport (or any sport possibly). When I said that I see almost as many women out riding as men on certain evenings, I forgot to mention one thing: It’s very rarely one woman alone. It’s almost always in groups (with other women or with men, boyfriends). Actually, roughly the only women I see riding solo are pros (there’s a couple living close by) or very serious amateurs who are not seldomly faster than me! ;-)

                • richardint

                  When I rode in a club a couple of years ago, we were about 50%-50% male and female – some were couples, but it certainly wasn’t the majority. And most of the women were faster than me :)

                  Outside the club, it’s rare to see women out leisure cycling on their own. Where I ride it’s quite rural, so whilst you’ll see guys on their own, it’s rare to see women. Maybe they’re just choosing different routes.

                  In terms of commuting, I’d say it’s not more than 15% female. Given that I’m out in the suburbs, it’s a hard or long cycle into town and most of the women I work with don’t want to take a shower in the office.

        • Hey @richardint:disqus – I appreciate the courteous reply because mine was quite despondent. Apologies for that.

          I could go on about this subject for a long time, but a few points to answer your question:

          1. A good story is a good story, no matter what the gender, race, species or whatever. That’s something I truly believe and is my starting point for everything we do here. Take this one for example that we just published today. Amazing: https://cyclingtips.com/2017/03/cycling-force-kept-alive/

          2. Women’s race coverage attracts a predominantly male audience. Yes, that’s true. It’s not commercially viable to cover women’s racing (how can we double our costs to attract the same male audience we already have, but barely read the content?). However, we believe that covering women’s racing is important.

          3. People only have so much attention to give to a sport. It’s a big ask for fans to watch a women’s race for 3-4hrs then a men’s race for 5hrs. I personally don’t believe the answer for women’s racing success is to try to go along side the big men’s races. I wrote an article on this here and refer to other women’s sports that have been successful by carving out their own market: https://cyclingtips.com/2012/11/womens-cycling-moving-ahead/

          4. Much of sport is about human stories, but the audience needs to know the characters. When we began Ella I thought that if we tell stories about the main characters in the women’s scene then people would get to know them, be better educated, and then start to care more and become interested. We thought we could change the world on our own in this regard, but if there’s a headline with a name nobody recognises, people simply don’t read it. We’ve had two articles here that Amalie Dideriksen (yes, the current world road champ) has written for us but have barely been read. Nobody clicks on them, nobody shares them (well, very few). Imagine if Sagan were writing for us? Part of it is that many of the names are not recognisable or pronounceable in English (same with the races). True for men’s racing too, but the interest is already there.

          5. Even the photographers are at a severe disadvantage with women’s cycling. The races are shorter (so very limited opportunities to get in, out and around the race), they have fewer clients to take advantage of the economics (thus photography is extremely expensive for us). Also, there’s much less of a crowd and livery at women’s races to create the same captivating photographs as we have with men’s racing. I originally thought that if we were able to showcase the beauty of women’s cycling the same as we’re able to do with the men, then half our problem is solved. It hasn’t been that simple.

          I have so much to say about this topic and I’ve said it so many times that I can’t write it all down again. It’s a very big problem and we thought we could be a catalyst for change, but there’s so much more to it. If we had proved that covering women’s racing was commercially viable things may have snowballed into other media interest, but the industry won’t support the media on this (or at least don’t support us on our women’s cycling) simply because we don’t get the traffic from women’s stories compared to men’s. If we did, that would change the equation dramatically.

      • THREO

        What you do for coverage of women’s cycling is appreciated by those of us involved in it. We know there are commercial drivers behind inequality in coverage and we, all of us in the industry, have to work to continue to give womens’ sport the attention it deserves – to share your coverage, to contribute to it, to read it and engage with it, and to put our eyes on it and work hard to make our own audience get their eyes on it too. So thank you – we will continue to value your efforts and to share them.

    • David9482

      Further to my wordy post to bigstu’s complaint of censorship… how is it possible for Cycling Tips to cover women’s racing 50%? It is what it is, but the vast majority of fans want to hear about the men’s races more than any other level of the sport. It isn’t sexism, but that’s what people are interested in.

      This isn’t sexism, but it’s mimicked in every other sport throughout the world.

  • Luke Bartlett

    With sports such as cycling, the ‘spectacle’ of the sport is basically exactly the same regardless of gender, and the racing is exactly as exciting to watch. therefore the race organisers need to come up with a way of making this into a product. I think the only way to do it is to run the races on the same day, and as simultaneous as possible, with the live feed showing both races increasing coverage as the women’s race gets close to the finish. i don’t see how a ‘day before the men’s race women’s race’ can work at all.

    basically the sport has to be propped up for sure, but it also has to grow as naturally as it can. otherwise its just creating a false economy.

    as a comparison, look at the AFLW league. the players were IMO not paid a fare wage. however, it provided the female athletes (who would otherwise not have a chance like this) with a short period in which they could try this new sport out, gauge its success and then play on the next year if they choose. the AFL could have forced the public to pay for tickets to enter games, however it chose to instead make the games free and increase the exposure of the sport. Eventually the competition will grow, but it’s important to let them grow naturally. they made the games free, increased demand for the live product, had a huge number of TV viewers by slotting it in the pre-season where its not in any direct competition (women’s netball was also running I believe). as more women get into the sport at a younger age and continue in the sport, the basic level of the game will increase and interest will increase with it, ensuring natural growth.

    enlighten me if I’m wrong on any of these points. I’ll close with, i am just as keen to follow women’s cycling as men’s and i love the increasing exposure offered by good media like CT through the Ella stuff as well as including more women’s results and race reports.

    • DaveRides

      The debate over AFLW pay equality has been quite interesting to follow.

      I agreed that the $5000 opening offer was poor, but the eventual result of the salary negotiations led by the AFL Players Association CEO Paul Marsh (despite the AFLW players having not paid a cent into the AFLPA) was that the AFLPA managed to get their preferred option of a base rate set at the pro-rata equivalent of a first year AFL player, which works out to $8500 plus expenses. There are two higher contract tiers, and a good number of players have also had the clubs ‘bundle’ offers of other ongoing employment in other roles at the clubs.

      For a first year league, having everyone guaranteed at least the same rate as a first year male player seems pretty fair to me. It took VFL/AFL players 94 years to get to the point of their first collective bargaining agreement which set a minimum salary, but the AFLW players get to skip the hard part and go straight into it as semi-pros. As you point out, it will grow naturally and hopefully break even at some point, which is when the AFLW players might be able to start negotiating their own pay rises rather than being pegged to the men’s rates.

      Super Netball has indeed started about halfway through the AFLW series, and there was also overlap with the W-League, WNBL and international cricket at the start. I’m not aware of any netballers playing AFLW, but all three of those other sports have had players in AFLW, including a couple of international representatives in Jess Cameron (cricket) and Erin Phillips (World Champion, Olympic medallist and current WNBA player in basketball)

      • Luke Bartlett

        Yeh exactly, any sport in its first year cannot expect the full treatment. I think the pay dispute was fair as $5k is not sufficient to support the players, especially some of whom had to go interstate. also it has to be remembered that rookie players in the afl themselves aren’t on high wages.

        i think the thing the afl has done so well is the coverage of the aflw, something the UCI has not done well. in fact, cycling coverage in general is poor, especially in australia, where you basically need to fork out for foxtel…or stream low quality and haphazardly sometimes not be able to lol. imagoine if the uci could manage a subsciption service for cycling coverage online, similar to what telstra does with the afl on mobile devices (but not lock the screen size). Id fork out say, $20-30 a month during the season to watch cycling.

  • Define equality? Perhaps too tricky.

    My reaction to the list is that’s it’s not bad but terribly elite focused: boards, world tour, the big money prizes. I’m not convinced top-down is the most important way to change anything, sport included (eg, all the guff that the Olympics will increase participation rates. ha!). Not unimportant, but not the most important.

    So I’d reckon #4 needs to be #1, with an expansion – make every experience of women and girls with cycling as positive as possible, starting with stomping on abuse in all forms.

    • DaveRides

      Before going any further, you need to decide whether the equality you want to work for is equal opportunity or equal outcomes.

      The effect of a top down initiative will be most interesting to watch with the development of AFLW over the next few years. The first season has been pretty scrappy with lots of players targeted by clubs for their athleticism rather than their skills with a footy, but if it has an effect on the number of girls playing footy as teenagers we should see the level of skills rise sharply within 3-4 years as younger players get drafted in.

      • Yes, the decision about ‘what equality’ is really important – but usually bypassed in favour of offering a wishlist of desired outcomes. It’s like having a to do list without first deciding what your job is.

    • Monique Hanley

      Hi, thanks for your comments. You are right: it is deliberately top-end focussed. I went with that to go with the theme of going bold.
      I’ve also had the fortune of working at club, State and to a certain extent, national level from behind the scenes. There is movement all around, but the big changes to the sport that require big structural shifts need to come from the top.
      Focussing on number four is extremely important, but I argue they are all related. And they weren’t in any priority order. Addressing 1, 2, 3, and 5, will help change the culture that will assist in addressing 4 too. I am obviously simplifying things here, and only 5 bold actions are not enough, as others have already pointed out.

      • Thanks, Monique. I hasten to say I’m not accusing you of personally neglecting the ‘lower’ levels. And, yes, the idea of a ranking priority was what I introduced – it was a way of saying that, when I reached #4 in your list, it jumped out and hit me between the eyes.

  • bigstu_

    I agree with your motivations (who wouldn’t). But… categorizing equal prize money in a pro sport as a human rights issue is a fatuous argument and undermines the desperate needs of those suffering real violation of their human rights. What about pros that have moved from one sport to another to make a crust? Are all rower’s human rights violated because a few have switched to cycling to further their careers?
    Exploitation and abuse in situations of extreme power imbalance is shameful but never solely a women’s issue.Plenty of male cyclists trying to get their first contract are at risk of exploitation by the unscrupulous. This has been happening with Boxers/Musos and promoters for decades.
    Many of your initiatives require change by others. Where are the initiatives that require change from the riders? The fight for a minimum ‘living’ wage is a good one but it will never be won without solidarity of the athletes. And maybe all of your other initiatives have little traction due to the lack of a unified voice. Maybe this should be your priority.
    I also question the ‘value add’ of mandating 40% minimum women in positions of Authority. What is the % of women in Netball administration and how many millionaire netballers do you know? Are they any less talented than basketballers? I don’t think so.
    It is possible for a male to be just as highly motivated, and have the professional skill set, to further the interests of women. And they should be allowed to contribute without being denigrated as ‘part of the patriarchy’. After all, a great many of men have mothers, wives and daughters. If it was my calling to work tirelessly for the betterment of others it would be a shame to have doors slammed in my face because of what was dangling between my legs. Isn’t that what we are meant to be fighting against?
    Maybe the problem is that those in power are not putting men before women but are actually putting themselves before all others? A condition not restricted to just one gender.

    • David9482

      Really interesting points you bring up and I wonder if the author’s points should be a little more sophisticated to adopt to what would be best for the female side of the sport, rather than sticking to ideals.

      After all, when you get down to it, Women’s Cycling is a branch of entertainment that has to compete for airtime, viewership and sponsorship dollars. For example, do women cyclists want 100% women in charge of their sport, OR a balance that includes men (and women) who are in the best position to sell their sport to the public?

      • Monique Hanley

        HI, thanks for your comments. I know when sports have divided in the past – such as MTBA and CA split – that there is always a lot of blood loss in the process. I think it is better for the overall sport to have everyone working as one. I think the men’s and women’s products – and the sport overall – can benefit from each other’s success.

        • DaveRides

          Independently running different areas of responsibility can work well – look at tennis where the ATP and WTA have the freedom to manage men’s and women’s tennis as best as they want it with the ITF taking care of the one aspect which concerns both parts (scheduling of the four grand slam opens).

          Smaller organisations with narrower objectives can be more focused and more agile than political behemoths like the UCI which have to organise a million different commissions and committees. Maybe privatising parts of the UCI would get better results?

          • David9482

            Totally agree, the women’s tennis circuit is the best example. It is by far the most successful (by purely monetary measures) female sport on the planet. For decades, the top females have been superstars who make comparable (not equal) money to their male counterparts. Further, the international sporting public/fan/journalists consider the best female tennis players as some of the great athletes on the planet – which is also not achieved anywhere else. Steffi Graf, the Williams’ sisters, etc. are very highly regarded by male and female fans… ok, now on to my point (sorry… I take awhile to get there).

            The UCI is not a professional promoter and cannot be expected to successfully market the female side of the sport. Organisers of many bike racers are the main promoters, and often they don’t see the monetary benefits of promoting the female side of things. Therefore, the female side of things needs to find a way to get their product front and centre on tv, advertising billboards, etc. It needs young fans, such as young girls to look up to it’s racers, to buy products that sponsor its teams.

            This is fact, and DaveRides is correct, this will only ever come from a smaller organisation that can adapt and promote the sport. The UCI has ZERO expertise in this, it’s resources are spread too thin and to be perfectly honest, it has to remain as independent as possible (haha… i know, this ship has long since sailed) from the commercial side of things if it is to be an impartial legislative body that can help police the sport. The UCI cannot be entrusted to promote female cycling, and privatising parts of the UCI isn’t the answer (creating a whole web of mini-UCI’s… that have million dollar lunches and committee meetings and discuss things but never get anything done).

            End of rant… haha. Please let me know if you have questions, or want to discuss further. I think this is a great topic, and I’d love it if my daughter (she’s almost 3) and the girls of her generation had great strong female role models to look up to who raced their bikes without fear of prejudice, abuse, etc.

            • Monique Hanley

              Yeah I agree it is a good discussion and perhaps something we should do more often!
              I really believe that the research, analysis, understanding, and option testing/piloting has been lacking in cycling for a long time.
              This thread has brought up some great points and suggestions that I’d like to explore further. Thank you.

    • Monique Hanley

      Hi, thanks for your comments. Diversity in leadership does not mean a switch from 94% (mostly European) male to 100% female, and I never argued for that.
      I agree that diversity works in all ways and I think netball’s evolution could have benefited from further diversity in their leadership. When I ran the CV Women’s Commission I always made sure I had at least 1/3 male in the commission. For the national Women’s Commission I wasn’t allowed to select the commission members, and it was decided the membership was to be all female. So I argued for the board representative to be male.
      The evidence on having a minority group represented by a single person shows they are not as effective. It is based around the implicit expectations that the person must always represent that group, as well as the difficulty in trying to influence the culture of the group and the discussion. Can you imagine Tracey Gaudry in that management committee, always being seen as the representative for all women? It is hard to shine with the skills and talent you bring when you have that additional responsibility. That’s another reason supporting diversity. The evidence suggests at least 1/3 in a group of either gender, which allows for the pressure of being that sole representative to lift.
      There is plenty of evidence showing the benefits of diversity in leadership. That means a better outcome for the entire sport: better decision making, better economic outcomes, better products. That’s great for everyone, and I think that’s why other sports such as FIFA have come out committing to increasing their gender diversity.

      • DaveRides

        The current board of Netball Australia actually appears to be quite a successful model of what you’re talking about. They have 3/8 male directors with strong business expertise who are all fairly new to the board, and they are going gangbusters.

        Have you been following Super Netball? They have a major title sponsor, a big TV deal, strong salaries (each team has a $675,000 salary pool for ten players) and they are shifting Super Netball matches (and the second-tier Australian Netball League matches with them) away from the smaller netball venues into larger multi-purpose venues. You’d be deliriously happy to have just one of those four factors for women’s cycling in Australia, right?

        • Monique Hanley

          Good to see Netball evolving! I must admit I haven’t been watching that closely (I’m distracted with AFL’s strategy for AFLW) but a great example as you point out.

  • AMK3072

    Prize money as a human rights issue? Spare me.

    Across the world regardless of gender the amount that an athlete earns is dictated by the commercial power of the sport.

    Equal pay for an equal job (eg an accountant) should absolutely be the case where you are doing the exact same job. In pro sports you are an entertainer. The authors mindset is fundamentally flawed.

    • David9482

      EXACTLY!! Equal pay in accounting, retail, executive suites, etc should be dealt with immediately.

      However, equal pay for sports definitely shouldn’t be dealt this way. After all, this is SPORT, and the nature of this does not reflect society, therefore it cannot be held to the same ideals. It is a priviledge to play a sport.

      And, to be bluntly honest, the economics do not exist for women to receive equal pay in cycling than their male counterparts. It’s a straight fact, and there is zero realistic way for this to change anytime soon.

      In the working world, absolutely, the paygap should immediately be corrected and it is horrible on every level that this has not been fixed. Unfortunately, men and women in the United States have elected the one man who will make this situation worse. Some countries are working towards this in the proper fashion, etc. etc…. ok, I’ll stop as this is a cycling website!

      • DaveRides

        It also has to be considered that while there are sports which can afford to cross-subsidise a loss-making women’s league and pay over the odds (e.g. AFLW, WBBL cricket) the simple fact is that cycling is not one of them.

        The form in which the pay gap is most likely to narrow at the moment is by more male pros becoming semi-pros, and more male semi-pros becoming amateurs.

    • Monique Hanley

      I argued that equal prize money is a PR issue for cycling. How do you grow the sport, and the women’s side, if you aren’t seen as treating them fairly?
      In my experience, introducing mandatory equal prize money resulted in no loss of events, and helped grow them. The event promoters always looked like superstars for doing it and had increased coverage from stories that announced it. As always, it isn’t the sole answer. But it is a relatively easy thing to do that helps change the image of the sport.

      • David9482

        Well, please define “relatively easy thing to do”? I would completely disagree with that statement. You’re asking races to double it’s cost structure by a) setting up a women’s race, b) paying out exactly the same winnings BUT (and this is the biggest part) c) without doubling the revenue stream. The facts are, TV companies and sponsors and fans are NOT paying the same to watch/air/sponsor a female race as they are for a men’s race.

        There are races that explicitly have NOT set up a female race because the economics don’t exist to support splitting prizes equally between male and females.

        • Monique Hanley

          In the article my KPI was that where WT and WWT events are aligned, they should offer equal prize money.
          I’m sorry if that statement caused confusion. I’m not calling for event organisers to introduce a new women’s event (although from experience yes there is an increase in event costs when they do, but it isn’t a doubling).
          I’ve found there is huge positive exposure from equalling prize payouts that bring ongoing benefits to the event and the sport. Some of this is in challenging unconscious bias towards the women’s event. I’ve seen a change in attitudes towards the women and the women’s event because of this. And I’ve never seen an event go under from it.
          I’d love to check out your examples where races have chosen not to add a woman’s event purely from the prize payout costs. That’s fascinating, particularly when there are few prize payout requirements, and where they exist tend to have much smaller payout regulations for the women. In Victoria equal prize money is mandatory but event organisers have flexibility on how big or small the payouts are. Can you give some examples?

  • Cycling Fan

    Analysis of this topic always frustrates me because it doesn’t recognise that UCI doesn’t run races nor teams. Any discussion regarding minimum wages or equal prize money will, if introduced as mandatory, reduce the amount of both unless suddenly an increased/new revenue stream comes into the sport, again this is largely outside of the UCIs control. Alongside this it’s never actually acknowledged that there’s barely a pie in the first place before we even consider who gets what share of it. Rightly or wrongly the greatest interest, by a long way, is in the men’s racing and even then it’s mostly a matter of survival for the vast majority of teams/races, there simply is not the monetisable interest in the sport that those of us in the pro cycling bubble believe there is.

    Sorry I don’t want to dampen the spirit but we dance around a fundamental issue that is never acknowledged and there is zero chance any of these issues will ever be resolved unless they are addressed.

    More thought needs to be given to basic economics of supply and demand – multiple examples of demand being there but not enough to financially support more supply (as also evidenced by some of Wades comments).

    • David9482

      EXACTLY! The UCI can make whatever rules they want, but they don’t control most of the mechanisms to enforce the rules.

      As you mention, more thought needs to be given to the supply and demand of this issue…. I’d argue that this actually presents an opportunity for women’s cycling to continue to take a larger slice of the cycling viewership as the men’s side has been botching up their public perception for years! It is only getting worse with the Team Sky debacle, and many viewers are getting tired of seeing the men do this to their sport. Let’s see how the fairer (and definitely brighter) sex can market their sport. I really like what Cycling Tips has done so far, and one day, I hope my daughter will see these efforts and want to jump into this sport! Good luck!

    • DaveRides

      Rather than making demands for more cross-subsidy, an alternative for the organisation of women’s road cycling could actually be for a divorce. Spin off the management of men’s road cycling to an ASO-RCS joint venture, pro women’s cycling to whoever wants to take it on, and leave the UCI as just the technical regulator – just like tennis has the ATP, WTA and ITF in the equivalent roles.

      Then the women’s cycling organisers can have a go at making their own pie. They could set their own rules on salaries, prizemoney, TV coverage etc without needing to compare them to what the men are getting.

      If the product really is good (we get told it’s more exciting so often that it must be true) then race promoters will still want to work with them, just as big tennis tournament promoters do what is needed to get both the ATP and WTA to sign on.

    • Monique Hanley

      Agree that market forces must be considered. I want to see a more business strategy focus (eg, perhaps considering the WWT as a Horizon 2 or maybe even a 3 product with a future focus on disruption). However policy plays a major part – we’d never have equal prize money as standard in Victoria if we didn’t introduce it as policy. We’d never have a women’s team pursuit if it wasn’t for the IOC calling for equality and forcing the UCI to act.
      You are right, we need to get into the detail of making this work and get a business case together. The AFL will be measuring the success of the AFLW not by ROI but on the number of non-traditional to AFL sponsors they get on board, and other indicators.
      Thanks for your comments, actions should be placed in the economic reality but that’s not to dismiss them without understanding the broader benefits.

      • Cycling Fan

        Thanks for taking the time to reply Monique. Personally I lean towards open market economics where regardless of gender, race, religion etc you are all afforded the same opportunity, therefore any governance positions should be awarded on meritocracy however I realise their is a degree of idealism in that view ;) I am inclined to agree that when there is govt funding involved ROI and market demand comparisons can be sacrificed somewhat to ensure more gender equality. When we zoom out and look at the WWT things change for me it’s an entertainment product so gender equality will only work if demand is equal across both products unless of course there is a degree of subsidising – personally i would love to see it happen but I don’t see it as being sustainable and i’m guessing you have reached that conclusion as well? I totally agree we need to spend a lot more time on the business case for the sport as a whole but at the risk of sounding glass half full i have to be realistic and suggest it needs a significant disruption and “radical’ thinking if we are going to even get close to it. There have been tons of similar proposals put forward and nothing has unfortunately worked – it all starts to sound similar after a while unfortunately. The optimistic me believes there is still value to be extracted but zero market research seems to ever occur on what the fans actually want and what the size of that fanbase is. It’s all about attention (people watching) and the numbers must go up to achieve what everyone would like to see. We cant find a solution unless we fully understand (and acknowledge) the problem. Sorry if I rambled a bit.


    Great article – thank you. And thank you for putting out there some concrete and pro-active ideas about what to do to redress the balance, the only way to make change is to take action. People may disagree with that action, or the benefits of taking it but at least by doing so, any such action ignites the conversation and highlights issues (as it’s doing in this very article with the various comments and ideas being posted in response). Getting that conversation going is key to giving people more interest in women’s cycling and women’s sport in general so articles like this do make a difference!

    • Monique Hanley

      Hi Threo, thanks for your comments.

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