International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year's campaign is #PressForProgress, marking a call to action for accelerating gender parity. And in the bike world, gender parity can feel light years away.
In the U.S., 24% of all bicycle trips are made by women and 76% are made by men. (source) There has been a lot of research and speculation on the reasons why, and what needs to be changed to improve that ratio, but that's a different blog post for a different day.
While we at Po Campo generally talk about biking as transportation and/or recreation, we can't forget the sport side of bicycling. We know many of our customers race, or aspire to race, and we know that gender parity is a serious issue in that realm too. Women's prize money is typically a fraction of that of men's, women's races get less media attention, and women are often sexualized in the media rather than treated as the athletes that they are.
Gender disparity doesn't just exist on the road or in the race, it's evident in the industry itself. When I go to industry events, it's mostly men. This actually surprised me when I first entered the bike industry - and I'm still not used to it and I still don't like it. Here is a video from Interbike, the industry's trade show, from 2017.
I couldn't find data to say what percentage of the people that the bike industry employs is male or female*, nor how what the wage gap is between gender pay. Fortunately Camber Outdoors is working on a study that should be released this year that will provide some insight into this topic.
The closest data point I could find was in the Outdoor Industry Association 2013 Benchmarking report that showed that 0-15% of CEOs were women, with the variance depending on size of the company. I think it's safe to say that the bike industry is no better, which helps explain why I so often feel like I know so few other women running businesses.
And if you're not in the industry but just shop at bike shops, you've probably noticed that most people who work in bike shops are men. Again, there's a lack of data about this, but a recent study from PBMA (Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association) begins to illustrate the disparity of gender representation.
While there are a couple of indicators that show things are moving in the right direction, such as the United Bicycle Institute (UBI) & QBP offering a Women's Bike Mechanic Scholarship to help right the disparity in the shop and the Tour de France getting rid of its podium girls, and the Tour of Britain doubling the women's prize money to make it equal to men's. Yet, there is still a long way to go.
Why does all this matter? Because if we don't see women riding bikes, if we don't work for or buy from bike companies led by women, if we're not paid the same as our male colleagues in the bike industry, we are being told that we are not part of biking and that our contributions and presence are not valued. This is wrong.
So this International Women's Day, with its #PressForProgress theme, is making me even more invigorated than usual. We invite you to get a new Po Campo bag to support our women-owned business that supports women on bicycles, and we're celebrating with a 15% off sale. Use code IWD2018 to get the discount - valid on March 8 only.
Moreover, this International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the women who love biking in the outdoors, i.e. YOU. Join the celebration by sharing a photo of yourself being active online and tag it #IWD2018 and #pocampo.