Gender Rules: Point – Counterpoint

Published on August 4th, 2022

As life seeks to address gender disparity in the work place, so does sport. The International Olympic Committee has made it such a priority that the Paris 2024 Olympics will have an equal amount of men and women competing in an equal amount of events for an equal amount of medals.

But initiatives at the top can’t ignore the realities at the bottom, which is the need for more women to participate in those sports. Creating opportunities to gain experience is necessary, but how to do it is debatable.

One intuitive has been the inclusion of gender rules in which crew composition must not be entirely male, though there remains pros and cons as are debated below:

Will Boulden:
Nobody is more in favor of having more ladies in our sport then I am, however, having a rule to require one female on each boat is absolutely the worst possible thing you can do to promote women in sailing. They more or less turn into a token female.

I could rant and rave more on this but the harsh reality is that the “plus 1” female on the boat will more or less turn onto the “extra set of hands” rather than actually doing any productive sailing. Take a look at sail GP teams.

Personally I would be much more in favor of separate leagues for women, like the World Match Racing Tour has now implemented. Well done to them for creating meaningful and purposeful participation for women in the sport.

Our goal should be to create meaningful participation for women in our sport, not turn them into tokens and barriers for entry requirements.

Carla Murphy:
Mixed gender teams are one of the things that has to happen for this sport to survive. Sponsors who want business from women, and the men who respect them, should avoid events that aren’t addressing the gender imbalance in this sport.

I don’t race many places where there are many all-male teams, but when I do encounter them I always ask them why no women will sail with them. I don’t keep track of the responses as I could care less why no women will sail with them, but I do enjoy making them try to come up with a reason for their floating sausage fests. However, there should be some events where they have to find some women to race with them or they don’t get to race.

I’m a good sailor and these days I never want for rides, but I learned how to be good at what I do on boats helmed by women, because that is where the opportunities were for me. Anyone who thinks there isn’t a problem in this sport we need to address hasn’t been paying attention and should read the World Sailing Trust Women in Sailing Strategic Review: https://worldsailingtrust.org/access-to-sailing/women-in-sailing

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