Most cycling clubs have no, or few, women members. Many want to do something to fix this but don’t know where to start.
Suggestions for Cycling Clubs Wishing to Attract More Women:
- Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read this. It’s great that you care about getting more women involved in the cycling community. If you’d like to be added to The Good List then get in touch.
- Let the women’s cycling community know that the club would like more women to join. Use the #WomensCycling tag on twitter. Post on facebook in womens cycling groups. There’s a list of some suggestions below. Adding your club to The Good List may help too. In a lot of cases, women are new to cycling and may not have heard of your club so just increasing awareness of your club and the fact you’d like more women to join is a great first step.
- Ensure the club’s website mentions that it welcomes women and if it has women members already be sure to include photos of them, preferably at least one on the main site. Consider adding a ‘Women’ page stating that you’d love more women to join. State how many you already have and what they get involved with e.g. road, MTB, track, leisure riding, racing, TTs etc. Have a women’s representative within the club who can be contacted by women thinking of joining the club.
- Ask individually. It’s been very effective to ask individuals if they’d consider joining the club. So if you already know some women cyclists who aren’t in a club yet, and you’re confident they’d enjoy riding and socialising with your club, then make them feel welcome and personally invite them to join. If they do join, make sure they’re made to feel welcome and not made to feel like they’re in the wrong place because they don’t have the right bike/kit, or not being strong enough. Often women like the thought of joining but assume they wouldn’t be good enough. A personal invite can help to remove that assumption, especially if an existing club member tells them they’re good enough.
- Lead a women’s ride on a regular basis e.g. once a month. Allow men to come along so that rides remain inclusive but put the focus on welcoming women. If the club has one or more female members already, ask them to lead it or join in with the ride and chat to prospective members. A lot of women are very nervous and scared of doing the wrong thing or feeling like they’re too slow. Often it helps if they know other women will be there. That’s not to say your women members are slow, there are women who are fitter/faster than a lot of men in some clubs, but it’s just a perception, a comfort factor, that may help.
- Organise a social event aimed at women so that they can meet club members and find out more about the club. Try to get as many existing women members to attend as possible. It’s great to have the guys there too so women can meet them and get a realistic impression of what the club is like. Spread the word on facebook groups and twitter that women who aren’t members are welcome to come along to your social to find out more about the club.
- Ensure all your events give the same prize money for the winning woman as they do for the winning man. Many cycling clubs already do this so get in touch if you have concerns/questions.
- If your club does organise races, consider putting on a women’s race. Category 3/4 races are especially good as most women racers are just starting out. Be sure to check the race calendar to ensure it doesn’t clash with another women’s race though. As women racers are in short supply whilst the sport grows, race organisers often complain that not many sign up, but this is sometimes due to a small number of women racers spread thinly across races that are on the same date. If you’re not sure where to start or could do with some guidance then there are plenty of people who are already involved in organising races for women who would be happy to give advice and support, and help promote your race. Check out the twitter accounts and facebook groups listed below and/or get in touch and we’ll point you in the right direction.
- Encourage one or more existing women members to get involved with the committee. If you don’t have a vacant role on the committee that you can offer, consider creating a new one (perhaps a women’s membership champion) or make an extra effort to invite existing women members to attend meetings to get their feedback and suggestions about how to attract more women to the club.
- If you have a club twitter account, ask one of your existing women members (preferably friendly & enthusiastic about attracting more women to your club) to tweet from the club twitter account occasionally. Seeing a woman as part of the group who communicate on behalf of the club is likely to send a signal that the club is welcoming to women. That’s not to say that women wouldn’t join without it, it just helps.
- On your facebook and twitter accounts, make an effort to celebrate the achievements of the women in your club, and their involvement in the club. Try to share more photos and other content where women are included. No need to be bias towards the women, just try to make a conscious effort to consider whether the content has a fair balance of men and women. It’ not always easy if not many women are getting involved yet but it’s worth the effort.
Useful facebook groups:
- Womens Cycling Manchester
- Womens Cycling Midlands
- Womens Cycling Sheffield
- Womens Cycling Ulster
- Breeze Network (UK)
Useful twitter accounts – people passionate about growing women’s cycling:
- Bike5050 – I’d love to help promote your club to women
- Breeze Network – British Cycling’s amazing and huge volunteer organisation getting more women cycling in the UK
- Women Cycling Mcr – some focus on the North West but also interested in rest of UK & beyond
- Racing Chance – focus on UK grass roots racing, mainly North
- Women’s Eastern Racing League – focus on UK grass roots racing, mainly south
- John Orbea – covers UK grass roots racing too, as well as the pros
- Sarah Connolly – focus on pro women’s cycling
- Vox Women – focus on pro women’s cycling
Useful twitter hashtags to include on your tweets to get the attention of women cyclists:
What Women Say:
If it’s useful, here are the things that really worked for me and made my choose my club:
- Women’s rides
- Very friendly and welcoming female representation
- Mention of women on the site but not in a patronising way
What keeps me renewing:
- Supportive environment
- Expectations of me as a member are very clear (I need to be self sufficient, but in areas I’m not sure of I can ask for help)
It takes time to see change but it’s worth the effort. If you try some of the suggestions above and don’t see any progress then please get in touch and I’ll do my best to help or point you in the direction of someone else who can. Good luck!