Video: Olympic Bronze Medallist Georgia Gould on Being a Pro Cyclist, Motherhood, & Winning the Battle for Equal Prize Money

Sep 14, 2019
by Garneau  

We are proud to launch the sixth Garneau Role Model video with Georgia Gould.

Inequality still exists in cycling. Female pros often are paid less, receive less coverage, and have less opportunity to race. In 2007, 5-Time US National Champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist, Georgia Gould raised her hand on these inequalities and thousands stood with her via their signatures on a petition delivered to the UCI:

bigquotesWe, the undersigned, find it regrettable that there is a considerable disparity between the UCI minimum prize money for men and women. We understand that because competition in the men's field is deeper, more places receive prize money. We do not understand why the women who are receiving prize money receive less than their male counterparts. Therefore we propose that the UCI show leadership and mandate equal prize money for the top five men and women. Article 3 of the UCI Constitution states: The UCI will carry out its activities in compliance with the principles of: a) equality between all the members and all the athletes, license-holders and officials, without racial, political, religious or other discrimination. We ask the UCI to honor its commitment to equality.Georgia Gould

Cycling needs more Georgias. We need to foster environments where everyone has a place. Georgia Gould is a role model indeed, but it takes more than one voice. It takes more women riding, more women supporting, more media highlighting, and more brands endorsing.


  • 41 25
 In my city the trend of equal prize money has also arrived. In popular races you see a stacked field of around 300 men fighting for the top 5 and then you see a field of barely 10-15 women doing the same. Yet, they get the same prize. How is that fair is beyond my mind, the top 5 males had to settle for less to make enough money for the women field which can't even generate their own prize money. World is upside down.
  • 20 6
 I believe the idea is to use the higher prize purses to attract more female racers.

It is kind of a catch-22 situation: there isn't enough racers to justify a large prize, there isn't a large enough prize to attract enough racers.

By increasing the prize, hopefully more women will be attracted as it will be a more viable option.

Yes, the men probably subsidize it to a degree but maybe that's how it needs to be in the short term to encourage growth of the sport as a whole (for both men and women)
  • 29 21
 There is a saying "equality feels like oppression to the privileged."

The men "settling for less" as you say is them losing their unfair money. That imbalance is being corrected.

And with giving equal prize money, it will encourage more women racers so you'll see a lot more women racing.
  • 24 28
flag clink83 (Sep 14, 2019 at 8:27) (Below Threshold)
 It takes a special kind of stupid to think the smaller women's pro field somehow works less or races less hard than the males.
  • 20 3
 @clink83: I don't think anyone believes the pro women work 'less hard' than the men. But the issue really isn't that simple, there are a lot of contributing factors; depth of field, which events are more marketable and viewed, where the prize money is coming from etc. It may seem like a men vs women issue, but it isn't
  • 8 4
 @furiousstyles: To ad to that, one only needs to look at the massive success that is Title IX in the United States. Though not without its faults and issues, Title IX has allowed for a massive proliferation in female participation in athletics and has further led to American women being included, active, and dominant in various sports against the top competition in the world. Equal prize money is not an instant fix, but it's the right thing to do.
  • 25 5
 Let me start by saying I would LOVE to see the women’s field in any sport earn equal pay. Let me follow that up with some basic economics that suggests this might be an unrealistic goal. The event that draws the most viewership is the one that will attract the most money from sponsors to have their name displayed to all those viewers. Like with TV shows, a hit show earns way more money from commercials because those companies are willing to pay more for the exposure compared to a less viewed show. If that hit show happens to have an all-male cast and the other show has a female cast, then it might seem like a gender equality issue when it’s primarily an economic issue. Gender/social issues likely play a role, as well, and those should be addressed, but they are FAR less a driving force than the economics.
If you tend to look at the world through a lens of “fairness” above all else (which often becomes a lens of resentment toward those who you see as “privileged”), then you are going to see this imbalance as a wrong to be righted (through forcing equal prize purses) when, in actual practice, it’s simply an issue of the sponsors (without whom there would be no event and no prize purse for anyone) trying to get the best return on their investment.
Again, I’d love to see these men and women who push themselves so hard for the sport get compensated equally. But the money that allows these events to exist comes from businesses, not charities. It might not feel good or fair, but those are the real-world facts that make it possible.
  • 17 5
 What about the junior riders, who work just as hard, but get paid a lot less?
Pure age discrimination!

What about the male pole dancers, who can hardly find a job?

There are so many battles that can be fought.
And they probably will be, somewhere in the near future.
  • 2 8
flag boozed (Sep 14, 2019 at 15:26) (Below Threshold)
 There's always one...
  • 6 1
 @DRomy: THANK YOU ! Very well stated and written.
  • 3 4
 Leadership is not asking what is, but what should be.
  • 10 2
 @Mlloyd550: Leadership is also adapting one’s theories to match reality rather than trying to force reality to match one’s theories. The latter approach usually leads down the road to coercion and tyranny.
To “match reality” does not mean to accept the shortcomings of the status quo, but there’s a difference between striving for realistic goals versus pursuing feel-good theories rife with unintended consequences.
  • 4 4
 @Grimes1405: Title IX is a massive failure.
  • 2 7
flag Mlloyd550 (Sep 15, 2019 at 10:26) (Below Threshold)
 @DRomy: same argument made by royalists against democracy, slaveholders against emancipation, segregationist against civil rights, bronze medal smiths against iron...
  • 8 0
 @clink83: Pro Men definitely work harder than women. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just ignoring objective data. Just follow some of the pros on Strava and compare. Men put in WAYYYY more vert and miles than women. (I'll just leave this link here: However you can make the valid argument that men are able to work harder because they have more financial support. Which may be true to some degree, so I won't use that argument to justify higher payouts...

The real answer is they take MUCH MUCH MUCH bigger risks than women. You'll sometimes see women podium (or win) in WC's while taking B-lines on the trail. You won't see any men outside the top 40 ever even THINK about taking a b-line. Another example is that I don't see any female WC racers riding Red Bull Hardline or Redbull Rampage, but there are several of the men. The payouts in those events don't even come close to justifying the level of risk those guys take. They are DESTROYING their bodies much more than the women are. Gwin's body is gonna be hurting a LOT more than Rachel Atherton's in 20 years. And that's worth lots of money.

In ANY job there are substantial risk premiums in salaries, sports and cycling should be no different.

That being said, I enjoyed watching the women's XC racing much more than the men's this year. I'm sure if they keep that up their pay will start matching or surpassing the men's.
  • 3 1
 @Mlloyd550: I’ll assume you misunderstood my point; otherwise, your statement would suggest significant historical ignorance.
  • 5 3
 Calm down edgelords, the lot of you can barely make through 20 minutes of a ride without keeling over let alone climb or descend anything that isn't buff singletrack.
  • 1 4
 @DRomy: And the terrible unintended consequences of equal pay for women would be what exactly? Your "point" is a hackneyed and unsupported argument historically put forth by those opposed to change. Tell us how the world is going to fall apart or the gods of equity will weep if equal pay for women athletes is mandated. Or how about you man up and grow up and and say hell yeah, women deserve pay equality.
  • 2 0
 @Mlloyd550: Your last statement demonstrates you haven’t genuinely tried to hear an alternative viewpoint; in my original post I said women DESERVE equal pay in cycling as they deserve it in the WNBA or any other sport. However, these events are sponsored by businesses, and there is a better chance of return on investment by putting money into the event that garners the most attention (usually men’s events).
You ask what is the worst that could happen by forcing equal prize purses...the answer is simple: the collapse of the event as sponsors no longer see them as economically viable, leading to no prize money for anyone, men or women.
For the record, I’m not trying to convince you of my viewpoint. I simply shared a viewpoint with which you disagreed, and you responded with noble-sounding platitudes (in lieu of a factual argument) and questioned my character/manhood. I’m strongly for equal treatment for women (as my wife can attest). I’m also strongly for putting our efforts as a society into pursuing goals that align with the real world. No fear of change here.
  • 1 3
 @DRomy: Fair enough and I didn't see your original post. I would add, however, that many, if not most strategically-minded companies expand their definition of ROI beyond short-term economic results and layer in gender and racial equality as it's been demonstrated that those goals enhance long-term ROI. In other words, it's not only the right thing to do, but in the long-term, it's the economically smart thing to do. Evidence mandating women directors on corporate boards- those companies that have done so on average outperform their competition.
  • 1 0
 @Mlloyd550: An interesting point and something to think about. Thanks for sharing.
  • 9 0
 The local team I coach has almost 40% girls. In the lower ages around 8th grade we actually have more girls than boys. My daughters think the bike team is the coolest thing possible to do. That's great to see. The womens XC world cup has been super fun to watch lately and the racing is as good as the men, that's a big change that's happening naturally. We have a big group of roll models for the girls that are making it a sport that attracts them.
I won't get into the payment debate, but it's great to see participation improving everywhere. When I was young(before mountain bikes), Connie Carpenter usually rode with us in the mens cat 1/2 fields in most regional races because there just weren't enough women to make her work. She was a beast, and as nice as they come.
  • 2 2
 One of the biggest upsets in the history of world cup XC: A dominant Georgia Gould loses to a flat tire on the final sprint just meters from the finish line. I still feel gutted for you!
  • 4 2
 Nice story. Great view of motherhood. Keep riding with your daughter
  • 2 2
 @formula411: dude you need to go back on your meds
  • 5 5
 Was great to see equal pay between men/women at the Tennis US Open this year. Tennis seems to be managing this issue relatively well.
  • 2 2
 @formula411: Given the choice, the women would gladly play 5 sets for equal pay. Speeds are lower, as are their bodies/heights. Disagree on the athleticism.
  • 3 1
 @dump: "Disagree on the athleticism." and you'd be wrong. A bottom tier male pro can trounce the best female pro. As for men v. women sport pay/compensation it's based on viewership, advertising dollars, marketability etc. Different sports, teams, and athletes draw different viewer interest for both men and women across all sports. Life ain't equal, or fair, get over it and drive on.
  • 1 1
 You know what's awesome?! Women's sports. Women's Tennis. Women's MTB.
  • 1 1
 Women's tennis is A W E S O M E ! ! ! Have been enjoying watching the unorthodox play of Hsieh Su-wei of late.
  • 3 2
 The one time in my life I have ever been starstruck was when I met Georgia Gould.
  • 3 2
 Met her once too, she was the coolest!
  • 1 3
 In my opinion; if you can't pony-up enough money for equal men and women purses, then you shouldn't have a race or don't offer a purse prize at all.
Good for you Georgia Gould by bringing to light the simple and obvious inequality of prize money between sexes. As a father of 2 girls, this hits home and my girls are just as fierce as any boy. I know that racing shouldn't be about the prize, but it's a decent incentive to work up to. I'm sure the men's fields would be just as small as the women's in most regions if the incentive wasn't there. I personally like racing races that have no prize money and all riders ride the same race wheel to wheel.
  • 1 1
 @formula411: I certainly did not say anything about threatening anyone nor did Georgia Gould. Not sure how this is a reply to my comment, but I would have to agree with you. There is no room for threatening any individual in this regard.
  • 2 1
 Struggle or not you made it happen–thanks Georgia!
  • 1 2
 Awesome! Thanks Georgia, well done.

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