Welcome to the 2023 Pinkbike State of the Sport Survey. This anonymous survey is designed to help shed light on key issues affecting the professional field and elite competition. We surveyed the best riders in the world to hear their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and criticisms on mountain biking as we go into 2023, all in an anonymous format. To read the introduction to the survey click here, and to see all the other currently published SOTS articles click here.
Mountain biking is historically a male-dominated sport, and so snapshots of pro riders don't often give a full representation of women's views and opinions. Women's participation in mountain biking has undoubtedly grown significantly over the last several years, however, the women's competitive side of the sport remains less developed than the men's side of things. In this survey, 58.6% of the riders were men, while the remaining 41.4% of those surveyed are women (that’s 2% more than last year - woo!). This article dives into the data that is specific to those 63 female pro riders who gave us their thoughts on the state of the sport.
The Majority of Women Surveyed Feel They've Have Experienced Sexism In The Sport
Only 25.1% of female professionals would say that they have not experienced sexism in mountain biking. That’s pretty bleak, thought it is approximately 5% higher than last year. The numbers tell us that the majority of female professional mountain bikers feel that have
experienced sexism in the sport.Women Want Female Peers In The Wings
We asked these women what they would like to see in mountain biking to make it more inclusive for female professional mountain bikers. We got a great mix of responses.
Women want to see more of their gender represented not just in the gates, but also in the field as part of the fabric of the industry. Female commentators, female officials, female mechanics, and team staff are desired, as well as women on factory teams and working in the World Cup circuit. Women would like to see their peers as mechanics, team managers, and sponsors. One survey participant also noted that there is a need to educate commentators on how to speak to female athletes, as well as a need to educate brands on how to celebrate female athletes without sexualizing them
in their marketing.
For enduro-specific riders, more opportunities are sought after to allow women to run their own program, rather than having to join a team. In general, women feel that the sponsorship money seems to be there for the very top, but doesn’t seem to filter through the ranks. Some women also mentioned that it would be wonderful to see the women's final as the 'grand finale', as opposed to the men's. Women are aware that their events are scheduled early, citing that this gives them much less visibility and spectators compared to the men, thus feeding the cycle of less exposure and lower pay.Speaking of Which, Female Pros Say There's a Pay Gap (and they’re right)
More than half of the women surveyed responded ‘strongly agree’ to the statement ‘there is a gender pay gap in mountain biking.’ Another 30.8% responded ‘agree,’ putting the total agree answers at 83.1%. 12.3% were neutral, 3.1% disagreed, and 1.5% strongly disagreed. They estimate to make 30-50% less than their male counterparts, and the comparison chart of responses proves it.
When asked ‘Is mountain biking your sole income or do you have to have another job to support yourself?’, 47.62% reported it was. Yet, for over a third of women surveyed, less than 20% of their salary is guaranteed, with the rest being made up of prize money and other bonuses. Around 24% of males reported approximately 100% of their salary is guaranteed, compared to just 13% amongst women. 18 of the women reported a salary in the 60-80% category, compared to 29 men. Most Women Want to Race the Same Courses as the Men
In response to the statement 'The course should be the same, irrespective of gender,' 52.4% strongly agreed, 34.9% agreed, 9.5% responded neutrally, and 3.1% disagreed. None strongly disagreed.
The vast majority of women surveyed think that men and women should race on the same courses. Many of them feel that to promote equality and respect for women, it's important to understand that despite physiological differences from men, professional women in this sport are exceedingly capable and can compete on the same courses as the men. Women's mountain biking is evolving quickly as more opportunities are afforded women and the sport develops further. It seems like big jumps and gnarly courses are here to stay, which is exactly what most of the women want.
Overall, the women we surveyed recognised that changes are being made in the industry for the better. Being able to race the same tracks (86% outwardly voted for men and women to ride the same course) was celebrated for bringing visibility and credibility to women racers. More women's events are desired to bring more women into the sport and racing scene so that the field of competitors grows and justifies an equal payment for professional (and right now probably still semi-professional) racers.Women Are Fiercely Competitive
Women are fiercely competitive too, with 41.46% wanting to be not just the best they can be, but the best in the world
at their discipline. Ultimately, there are still less women at the startline, leading to smaller fields. 73.3% of women would support legislation to diversify the professional field, such as an elite UCI trade team having at least 2 of the following: a male, a female, and a junior.
It seems that many of the pro women we surveyed would like to be valued based on competitive results, rather than on social media followings or other metrics. We saw similar feedback from the men's side of the survey. It's important to acknowledge that the competitive mountain bike scene is subsidized by brands that want to sell their products, and that racers and brands aren't always motivated by the same things. Brands that hire racers to sell things will always be somewhat at odds with racers who feel their only job is to compete, regardless of gender.
Only 2 women surveyed felt that their sponsors valued their feedback from product testing, and media coverage from events, with consistent results and active social media presence being valued the most.Women Are In Favour of Unions
93.5% of women surveyed agree with the idea of a rider’s union, with 81% of women feeling that a union would be beneficial to their interests. 79% of all women also feel that each discipline should have an independent rider's union, and 59% of women agreed or strongly agreed that the rider's union was a direct response to lack of support, communication, and transparency from the UCI and Discovery (37% were neutral, with just 4% disagreeing).
Everyone was asked the same question, but we can look at the data and break it down to see who felt what, which is what was done here.
@henryquinney: well articulated sir, looking forward to these issues tackled more on the site
Is there an example of a type of human being who chooses 'racing' as their profession who is not competitive?
Should we ask Kate Courtney why she isn't as competitive as a man?
I told you that in general women are less competitive than men
I don't rlly care about what women do but if you compare women's MTB to men's xc than you are a fool
Well done, sir, or so I thought, because I then realized that you *did* in fact mean what you wrote. That's just ridiculous - as others have pointed out. Also, my joke detector needs a reboot ...
It’s one thing to welcome people and it’s another to treat them as peers.
I do think that some sports are not necessarily inclusive, but I also think some do not appeal to woman as much.
It seems like there are more women road cyclists than off-road. And way more woman runners. It could be a whole host of barriers other than sexism that skews the numbers.
I know a lot of women that would love to have serious careers in MTB but can't because they aren't taken seriously to the same level as their male counterparts, so this is something I'd love to see change.
(full disclosure...stealing this from an episode of Cheers)
y'all enjoy some Bill Burr.
The fact you choose cooking just proves you are out to lunch. You think Women like cooking based on your bias of seeing women at home in the kitchen. That is not because women like to cook. That is due to gender norms pushed on women from a young age. Compare that to a professional cooking setting, where you would think people are doing it because it is what they like to do and are good at. Professional kitchens are very male dominated. If women like to cook and men don't, why is that the case?
The majority of young girls are not put on a bike and encouraged to go off jumps. Boys are. If girls are not told or taught they can do these things then they don't ever get the opportunity to know if they like it or not.
Will all girls want to mountain bike, no of course not, just like not all boys do. But majority of girls don't even get the opportunity to explore whether they want to or not.
They ask you, because they know with statistical certainty that you know, and that she probably doesn't (same with my gf)
Women are just less system-obsessed than men in general. Not a bad thing, its part of what I like about them.
We all have to cut corners in social interaction or it becomes impossible
In the board room, do we have a men's CEO or a Women's CEO or do we just have a CEO.
In the Fire or Police Department, Do we have a Men's Squad or a Women's Squad? nope just a Squad, force, etc...
True equality is everyone being treated the exact same for doing the same thing. there should be no gender, race , religion, etc taken into account. Everyone is equal or at least we are trying to get to a world where everyone is equal.
It is only in competition where Genders have a split.
And thats ok.
But one of the consequences is that, at the upper most elite levels, you have 1% of 1% competing. 1% of 1% requires at least 10,000 for your starting population to get up to just 1. Unless the female total population increases dramatically, there will never be close to the same number of pro women mountain bikers.
Whether or not she needs him to screen interactions with other men is none of my concern. My first obligation is to make peace with her protector. You may scoff at that, but if and when shtf, a woman's man immediately becomes her security detail. Undermining that announces a stranger's intentions.
I’ve witnessed bar fights on multiple occasions, where the primary reason was a dude talking a bit too long with another dude’s girlfriend… First there’s a warning, then a push and then fists fly through the air. I’ve never been in such a fight myself (or any other fight), but I also don’t chat up other guy’s girlfriends… So in a way I get where sunofagun is coming from with his comment.
Well, if you date girls of certain other cultural backgrounds, you will find out they can be just as possessive… I do have experience in that area (had an international relationship), and I can tell you it’s not just a male thing… My ex literally would wedge herself in between any conversation I would have with another woman. Personally I thought it was kind of cute and had no problem with it.
If I needed to "make peace with her protector" on a regular basis, I would be seriously evaluating the situations I am putting myself into. But suit yourself. Sounds fun? Maybe?
One, making peace with a stranger is a way of being respectful when you approach a group. You present yourself for approval, you trust them to come to their own conclusions. Now, sure there are exceptions, but generally speaking it's a custom one adopts and more or less sticks to.
Two, a sheltered life means you have little to no experience dealing with emergency, tragedy, and events beyond your control. It doesn't mean frequenting with dubious characters or putting yourself in bad situations.
The WNBA is 26 years old now. It has yet to turn a profit. It is, as someone else here called it, its "welfare for tall women". Its completely financed by philanthropists investors. After two dozen, years, the needle would move a little if there was this big untapped demand for womens sports.
Lack of interest in sport wasn’t the main reason for the high numbers, rather it was a fear of being judged and compared to boys when it came to standards and performance.
The last DH race I went to had 110 guys, 6 women.
Men/women ratio in any climbing gym or crag is not 50/50, but close.
Women as a whole don't give a f*ck about mtb, and that's all right, not everyone has to like everything.
Damn, my non mtber gf watches DH world cup with me, she does not care about the women's race at all, she just tells me to call her for the last 15 guys lol
Rolling the dice on not making rent vs making rent pulls you from the sport.......it's called survival lol
Even if that is a primary driver, there is no way to change this reality unless we allow young girls to go on the sauce or end boys sports.
@Hlkave there is no evidence that pro salaries have any affect whatsoever on youth participation in sports. As a father of girls and boys, and a former junior high/high school coach, my personal experience is that girls don't care about sports as much as boys do.
While money can be a driving factor to engage in something it is most likely not the case here. People ride bikes just to ride bikes. Regardless of chasing a paycheck from it or not
I work with professional athletes daily and this is absolutely one of the largest driving factors on if they can even continue to train. It is why Olympic and para are now paid equally.
Firm disagree annnnnnnd I am closing this chapter in my life on this pinkbike thread
Your personal anecdotes are utterly meaningless
The WNBA has been around for over 26 years, and has yet to turn a profit. It loses money. The women still get paid. Male NBA players generate over ten billion dollars a year of revenue, with a profit of about two billion dollars, AFTER paying the men very high wages.
There is no gender pay gap in professional sports.
The answer of course is both- its a positive feedback loop.
That being said, taking the WNBA as an example because basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, is very insightful. For nearly three decades money has been poured into the League in an attempt to grow its viewership and it has not been a good investment. The audience for Women's basketball has not significantly grown despite the audience for basketball overall growing, and participation in the sport growing. There are many players in the WNBA that weren't even born when the League started, but it has yet to turn a profit.
Maybe the number of women who actually care about basket - for whatever reason - is very small. I have never seen a girl playing pick up basketball at the local playground or rec center. Ever.
I see plenty of women running, road riding, playing tennis, golf, etc.
There is so much crap vying for our attention / entertainment, that people are selective and want to watch the best, as far as sports. How long is a college basketball season and how many people only give a shit about March Madness? Hell, I love to watch supercross, but 9 out of 10x I am FFWDing to the 450 Main.
Of course I disagree with this nonsense, social engineering always ends in disaster. But its good to be familiar with all the arguments on all sides.
Why wouldn't women viewership matter? If women aren't supporting a women's league, why is it incumbent on men to not only support it, but split there time to watch it over the NBA?
Their response would be "sports are male dominated because of society's general encouragement of boys enrolling in sports and the push for girls to do things like dance instead (completely false, BTW). Its therefore the responsibility of men to fix this problem, since they created it. It takes a generation to "fix" the problem of girls being pressured out of sports, so its a quicker fix for men to just stop discriminating against womens sports".
Of course, all this completely files out the window once you accept the idea that trans women are women and should compete against women. How can there be a gender pay gap if the genders are not distinctly defined?
The difference in athletic performance between women and men can be increased yet again with natty men vs men on the juice. So if the best way to drive viewership is to focus on "the pinnacle of sports" why restrict ourselves at all? We don't do this because of the dangers of PEDs, and it would be unfair to men who don't want to assume those risks. To bring that analogy to men & womens categories, we shouldn't penalize women nor encourage them to skirt the rules about PEDs just to attempt to compete against the men for viewership. The different categories shouldn't compete against each other, they should work together to grow the sport.
Again, everything above is the devils advocate, not what I actually believe.
But let's be real, watching the top 15 men vs. the bottom of the women's field does not carry the same entertainment value; in addition, there are literally only a very small number of women who can win a WC DH.
This is especially problematic on social media
How much does an athlete like Kate Courtney (500k+ followers on instagram) make, compared to someone like Phil Atwill (100k followers), for example?
Not trying to be edgy. Just trying to get some, IMO, important discussion topics on the table
I'm fine with the survey being scientifically meaningless because these are journalists doing a survey, not a real study, but the writing and editing part of journalism is supposed to the bread and butter at Pinkbike/Outside. What editor let that slip through the cracks? Be better Pinkbike.
There's a ton of stuff in the world that is "inherently" this or that. Since forever many of these things are "in a permanent, essential, or characteristic way" (definition of inherently). I thought the point of trying to move big things like "equal rights" (LGBTQ*, gender, economic, etc) forward is to recognize that though many of us erroneously considered them inherently for some, not others or right when they were wrong, they are actually changeable and can progress to a better standard or understanding or state of being.
As journalists, I consider you (collectively) to be more experienced and better versed in things like word choice and not leaving us to "know what you meant". If I'm to consider you to be journalists, I also (rightly or wrongly) assign greater weight to your word choices. So, even though I'm not going to worry about it past typing this out (because I don't have to because I'm a dude and Ms. Fitzpatrick just told me mtb is my sport #sarcasm), I would suggest that a woman wanting to talk about how the women's mtb pro field thinks of themselves and the sport would steer clear of labelling it the guy's sport.
There's been a few PB staffers mention to us how words matter in other contexts, and I would invite you all to see if it matters in this one at your next staff meeting. There's more than one Pinker who thinks so. And on a personal note, you saying "you'll amend it" after basically saying "get over it" leaves a sour taste.
For the record, I agree with you. You are 100% correct, but it also makes it easier to agree with you because you're expressing a nuanced opinion on a complicated matter, not just universally whinging into the void, which is how I interpreted the post I responded to.
So yes, you are right. I agreed and I amended it - and happily. But that's because I want the article to be good, fair, and represent the views of their author and not because somebody posted something needlessly fatalistic about something that I am operating on the assumption was an honest mistake.
I think the idea of inherent can be also a recognition that it needs changing. Am I mad for thinking this? I don't know, somebody could look at me and say "his cornering technique is inherently wrong". That to me would suggest an acknowledgment of fundamental misalignment, and something deep-rooted but changeable.
Also, is it worth considering that Christie lives for her outdoor pursuit, perhaps we should also consider that if a woman in the industry feels that there are inherent issues of sexism then maybe we should at least consider that thought? I genuinely believe that feminism should be what women want it to be based on their observations and not what we tell them it should be, or what we're entitled to give them but maybe that's me just being an utter loon. Like I said, I hope my amendment is to offer better clarity - but if she wants to change it back she's very welcome to.
Speaking of pedantism, I just thought the general definition of inherent has, as it's definition includes, a permanent tone about it. Maybe just to me, but "historically" already reads better. And 100%, if Ms. Fitzpatrick was trying to put a strong tone/exclamation point on the situation that's her prerogative; but for me as the reader that's not the picture I put together. Her word choice is not incorrect if that's what she intended, and maybe there's just this small minority who, to varying degrees, didn't jive with it.
Just my perception, but I still see the word "inherent" describing mtb as male and speaking of trying to change the sexism/pay/representation as a paradox. But that's just me. I just hope you and Ms. Fitzpatrick take is as one reader's civil discourse. Thanks for the response, and for Ms. Fitzpatrick's contribution on this portion of the survey. It is nice to see the women's field seemingly aligned on all the issues important to them.
the issue is this would be the death of female racing, or all of sport if it's extrapolated out. This is also why there is a pay gap. less people want to watch lower skilled people compete, if the option to watch higher skilled people is there.
see also: WNBA
Not trying to be a dick. I wish them well in their careers and hopefully they can naturally grow their side of the sport.
This would definitely result in longer waits for both top-10s but it could be worth it.
(this is for DH, in case that wasn't obvious. XC can't really be changed and enduro is not much of a spectator sport anyways)
I haven't been on a World Cup race, but at the DH World Champs in Lenzerheide. I also regularly watch the races, XC and DH.
Because of the duration of mens races, i usually watch the full womens DH and XC and skip through the replay of the mens. The mens races are just too long to watch without some friends and beer...
I personally would like to see a way like e.g. the FWT does, where they basically roll the dice which category starts first and then cycle the categorys through. So on one weekend the men are the last category and on the other the women or the junior women etc.
and Fast forward to the top 5 women.
these are the only ones with any shot of winning, respectively
I know one of the women, so I tend to watch all the race to see her run.
I noticed that the Friday fails videos are primarily men crashing their bikes. I would like to see more equity in this area right away. 50/50 or PINKBIKE IS SEXIST.
- female, marketing director, MTB industry 4 yrs
The other day we rode past a young man (we're in our 50s so he was definitely a younger man) on a full enduro rig sporting a full face helmet.
A cheery wave and a hello and we were off. I am sure he took a moment to realise that a couple of middle aged women just rode by him also enjoying the trails.
Are we outliers or the new societal norm? I hope it's the latter. Every one wins.
At the begining of the season when dates are being announced, a coin toss or random generator could decide the program for each round amd publish in the event schedules.
Giving all riders the potential to have their race as the finale, not just a given that its always the men.
Don't try to skew results
People need to accept that this is a niche sport with very few making a "living off of it". You want to make a living working in the industry go work for SRAM or Shimano or a frame company, don't be a racer its just shit aweful odds even for those in the .001% of riders and I for one start to get pretty judgy around the children athletes lamenting their "not being paid enough".
can we have 2023 be the year we all take off the SJW tinfoil hat and look at reality?
what do you have to say on the topic of Modern Monetary Theory and how it intersects with the idea of a Central Digital Currency?
Rhodes is going to be calling soon if you keep it up, genius.
Something that seems so obvious to some and confusing to others. A joke usually hits on reality a bit. I should have said athletes not lady rippers. But my daughters don’t care to watch the male athletes.
Point 1: Kate Courtney started when she was 16
Point 2: women are inherently less competitive than men whether it be thru nature or nurture
Point 3: there a much less women in the sport so the field with lese people has to be less competitive
I would be interesting to know the details on what they experienced, and if or how they felt it affected them.
just like a pronoun. you don't get to dictate the words other people use. An Antelope doesn't get to make me call it a Zebra.
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