Pamela Fralick, Chair of the ITU Women’s Committee writes: Over the past two months, the ITU Women’s Committee has been attempting to gather data on the role women are playing in triathlon. Each member country was asked to provide basic information on the numbers of women involved as athletes, Board members, officials and coaches. As well, members were invited to identify the issues or problems facing women in their country, which might prevent them from being more involved.
Of the 80+ members of the ITU family, 22 countries responded to the survey
- thank-you and congratulations to Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman
Islands, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar,
Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, North Korea, Philippines, South
Africa, Switzerland and the United States!
Unfortunately, with only a quarter of our members responding, it is difficult to draw conclusions. The Women’s Committee will continue to gather data, in an effort to provide more rigorous findings and to be able to compare the results with previous surveys, but, in the meantime, it is possible to provide a few observations:
• Athlete Participation: In terms of overall participation of women as athletes, numbers range from miniscule to almost 40% of all triathletes in the country. Many members report that over 20% of registered triathletes are women.
• Governance: In general, Boards and Executive Committees reflect only one or two women of 7 to 20 members.
• Officials: Women seem to fare well as officials, often reflecting 20 to 25% representation of all officials in a country.
• Coaches: While 4 members reported having a significant number of women coaches, most reported having no women as coaches at all.
Clearly, more data is needed in order to consider any findings indicative of
the sport as a whole, and to allow for trend analysis with previous surveys.
There are at least three reasons for the poor response rate to the survey, despite
it having been sent to members on several occasions: lack of time to complete;
no data currently being collected; a lack of infrastructure to respond to the
request; and/or concern about revealing the true state of women’s involvement
in the sport of triathlon in their country.Issues: Key issues/barriers to involvement
included family obligations, funding, and the lack of social acceptance/ awareness
of the sport, or women in sport, in general.
On behalf of the ITU Women’s Committee, and our sport, I continue to ask for your participation in this important aspect of understanding triathlon, and the role of women within. As can be seen from the above, no country-specific results will be published, but we do need more input in order to produce valid results, observations and analysis. It is not too late to participate! The Committee will continue to work with this data, and provide a more scientific report at next Congress. In the meantime, watch the ITU Update for additional results from this important survey.
The health of our sport relies on participation, at every level, from both genders. If we truly wish to see more women enter triathlon, we need role models as athletes, on Boards and Committees, and as officials and coaches. These are the influential positions that can have dramatic effects on bringing more women to our sport. One key part of influencing our current situation and increasing women’s participation is to record and analyse “how we are doing”, which then produces ideas and recommendations for change. Be part of the solution, and help the ITU monitor our progress in this vital area!