Two way street
Last week I wrote equality in sports - specifically in the uneven prize purses for many mountain bike races. And while I firmly believe that race promoters can help bring about change - taking the leap of faith to provide equal payout despite the discrepancy in numbers - there is also a weight upon the women. We cannot sit around, waiting for the money to show up, while complaining that there are no races that pay out. We have to make an effort to bolster our numbers, with or without the money. There are races now that offer huge and equal prize purses - the Epic Rides Off Road events come to mind. And where are the women? If we are going to complain about not having equal money, then we damn well better show up when it is available. Otherwise, what is the point. All talk and complaining without action isn't the way to bring about change. Support the events that support us, showing the race promoters that the numbers are there. Because if we don't it doesn't matter how much or how loudly we talk.
We have to be willing to race fun events that may not have the equal payouts - and encourage our friends to join us. And once we show that we have the numbers, then is the time to supplement our actions with words. Getting on Facebook and complaining about not having equal payout isn't the way to effectively communicate with race promoters. That's a good way to get ignored. Polite letters with well thought out arguments showing the benefits of providing equal payout for podium finishes, followed up by outreach will be more effective then social complaining. It's been proven to work at races around the country. Silently boycotting races doesn't help either - it just proves the point that women aren't interested in racing. So the race promoters don't see the point in changing the status qu and won't. We cannot shrug our shoulders and go "well, there's no money - I'm not going to race" and then complain to anyone who will listen. Again, not effective communication. How we communicate regarding this issue will lay the framework for the resolution.
I'm not trying to make a living racing. I'm just living the lifestyle, loving where my bike can take me and the adventures along the way. When I get a paycheck for riding my bike, it's a bonus. And I don't pick races based on if there is prize money - I just want to have fun - so I'm part of the issue. That's not to say that I don't get frustrated then the payout is uneven. But since I'm not relying on racing to earn my living, I also see the other side - how hard it must be to justify offering an equal payout ten deep when only 20 women race compared to 120 men. If I was the 11th man, I'd be frustrated with how "easy" it was for the women to earn money. I think that is the biggest hurdle that we have to overcome.