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‘Fluffy music’ and subtle sexism affect women’s cycling: Elinor Barker

It's not blatant, but it's there, says Welsh Olympic gold medallist...

The Welsh Olympic gold medal cyclist Elinor Barker has said that though there is “still a lot of sexism" within cycling, it is not "blatantly obvious”.

Speaking just days after Nicole Cooke, giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, slammed British Cycling, saying it was run "by men for men", Barker told BBC Radio Wales Sport that there were encouraging signs for women, but that sexism had not yet been eradicated.

"There's still a lot of sexism in cycling today. It's not always blatantly obvious like a pay gap or races not being put on," said the team pursuit gold medallist.

"Times have changed a little bit since Nicole's time.

"I can understand her frustrations but, as much as there is sexism in sport today, there's not been a better time to be a female cyclist. I certainly can't complain about the amount of support.

"There are so many more British female riders that can be full-time and don't need to get jobs and hopefully that's going to be on the rise.”

British Cycling said in a statement: "There is always more that can be done and we strive to make continual improvements to ensure that cycling is reaching out to women and girls of all ages and abilities."

Barker added: ”I think sometimes it's the subtle things that can be quite damaging - the choice of music while the women are racing can often be quite trivial and it downgrades the racing a little bit.

"When the men have got awesome rock theme tunes to their racing, it makes it more exciting and it draws the crowd in, whereas when the woman's is on, there's this sort of fluffy music and it doesn't make the crowd that excited.

"There are different levels to it. Equality needs to be across it all rather than just focusing on the pay gap. It needs to be all these little things to raise the profile of women's cycling.”

We reported this week that the independent review into British Cycling ordered in the wake of allegations of bullying and discrimination has reportedly returned a ‘damning’ verdict on the governing body, which is said to have appointed a firm specialising in crisis management to handle the fallout.

The findings of the probe, ordered by UK Sport last April after former technical director Shane Sutton’s resignation, will not be made public until next month.

However, British Cycling received a copy last week, with CEO Ian Drake, who had been due to leave the organisation in April, departing with immediate effect, the official reason given that he had completed handover of his duties.

It is believed that the contents of the report of the panel chaired by British Rowing president Anne-Marie Phelps, could be ‘hugely damaging’ to British Cycling.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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