What keeps women from sailing

Published on November 14th, 2013

A Facebook post on the Scuttlebutt Sailing News page asked for women to submit commentary on what keeps women from wanting to participate in sailing. Here were the replies…

Jillian Humphreys: I am a woman, I also have taught sailing for 13-14 years, both adults and kids. Most women are afraid that it requires a certain amount of strength that they do not have. While I grew up sailing, racing and cruising I still look at it as I will never be strong enough when I do certain tasks, but when I try I learn that I can and want to be able too. My female friends tend to be rubbed the wrong way when they learn that sailing isn’t a lay back and the sails trim themselves kind of thing.

Alicia Tyrell: I’d ask the wives, daughters, and girlfriends of sailors, and not the actual female sailors. Female sailors are the ones who love it. We are into it just as much as the guys if not more so. Seriously racing with friends on a nice day is just about as much fun as is possible.

Martin Fraser: Is this just attempting to create an issue where none exists? Are female participants really a smaller minority than in golf, where < 25% are female? Seems comparable or better in our sport, but I have no data on sailing. Is a better question: What is keeping African-American / Asian-American / Latino / etc participants from partaking? That seems a more clear paucity to my eye.

d’Arcy Muller: Women sailors have to be more passionate – we face a few more hurdles and are not forgiven as quickly for mistakes. That being said, if you have the competitive mentality and humility to learn the sport every single time you’re on the water, you’ll thrive and love it. And beg for rides every single day and do the work to make yourself a valued crew member. I agree with Martin Fraser – why are there so few ethnicities represented in sailing?

Ava Moore: Make it fun–jump in with a group that is willing to give you a chance and go for it! I learned to sail in San Francisco and always had great support from the male sailors as long as I was willing to learn. But for some it can be intimidating and one fleet made a point of letting me know the gals weren’t really welcome, but it didn’t stop my skipper and I lasted the season.

Sandy Mickelson: Ditto Martin Fraser. I think we are way past the problems that kept women from wanting to sail. The more appropriate question concerning women is why it is not as high a priority in their lives.

Jennifer Ihlen: I raced for 9 years and finally said I’m buying my own boat! I got sick of all the Dick waving! If you’re not familiar with the term it means… I’m assigned to trim jib or spinnaker and the whole time I’m doing it there’s one guy saying trim it in and the other guy screams let it out! Men are over bearing and think we can’t make our own decisions! Now I make my own decisions on my boat and I’ve never been happier!

Holly Chamness: Sun damage, and the lack of appropriate clothing (or appreciation of…); mostly sun damage.

Ann Susan Cairns: Toilet issues!

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