The Women’s Commission of Cycling Ireland will be hosting an open forum on the 17th September at 3pm in the Sundrive Pavillion, Eamonn Ceannt Park, Dublin. The aim of the forum is to inspire and motivate female cyclists to actively shape the landscape of women’s bike racing in Ireland. The forum is an opportunity for all cyclists to learn about the racing opportunities available, as well as establishing criteria for developing a healthy and progressing bike racing scene in Ireland.
Speaking at the forum will be three times National Road Champion and international cyclist, Lydia Boylan, as well as European Youth Olympic Festival silver medallist Lara Gillespie. Both will be sharing their experiences from competing on the world stage, which will trigger discussion on what measures can be taken to attract more women into the sport of cycle racing, and what measures can be taken to develop a healthy and progressive pathway in the sport.
Speaking ahead of the forum recently appointed Cycling Ireland Board Member Gillian McDarby said “this will be a real opportunity for everyone to gather and discuss the broad subject of what female cyclists want. There are a lot of volunteers and clubs around the country who support women’s bike racing, and who are motivated and dedicate a lot of time to hosting races and striving for equality in the sport.”
The accomplished coach, team manager and former international cyclist added: “However, it is important that together we constructively establish guidelines and criteria around what will make the sport better, and what will attract and retain more women in the racing side of cycling. We would like to encourage anyone with an interest in women’s cycling and in bike racing to come along and contribute to what will be a ground-breaking conversation.”
Females make up approximately 20% of the Cycling Ireland membership, yet make up 6% of Full Competition licence holders. There is a remarkable drop off for girls in cycling, with the gender gap increasing as they move from youth to junior. 34% of U10 licence holders are female, 24% of U14 licence holders are female, and by the time cyclists enter the junior ranks 9% of junior licence holders are female.
It is clear from the membership that the women’s leagues have been a successful introduction to racing for women, with those holding a Limited Competition licence (accepted for beginner’s leagues) making up 61% of adult female competition licence holders. This is significantly greater than the percentage of males holding Limited Competition licences – 49%.
The Women’s Commission have issued a survey for circulation prior to the forum, and ask all female cyclists to complete it by the 11th September to help inform the forum. The results will be discussed on the day.