As a single woman in my mid thirties, I face many of the same unique challenges that my fellow female triathletes face. Being able to balance the demands of a full-time job, a family, and training can be intimidating to others. I was recently reading a thread on the Ironman Singles Facebook Page discussing the insecurities of men who date successful women. This got me thinking. Why is it that some men are unable to handle a woman who has her shit together? Did the historical lack of women’s rights create this fear of the over-achieving, independent, successful
I have never been the type of person who “supports the cause.” Typically, I find months dedicated to a specific matter such as “Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month” or “National Rosacea Awareness Month” kind of obnoxious. Now, that is not to say that there are not people that I love that have been affected by these conditions, it just never occurred to me to become particularly active and show support. I guess that is because I have never had something that I felt passionate about…until of course now.
As a partner in a women-owned business, I now am beginning to realize the importance of such celebrations. There is an understated significance in our victories and accomplishments. We need to look at the past to see how far we have come, and gaze into the future to understand where we are going. Only now do I truly grasp the importance of dedicating an entire month to a specific cause.
Over the past century, women in America have made huge strides in becoming equal to our male counterparts. This started, of course, with the 19th Amendment giving us the right to vote in 1920. In the world of triathlon, women are gaining ground quickly, starting with Lyn Lemaire who became the first Ironwoman in 1979. Although female participation in triathlon is up 27% from 2000, we still make up only about 36.5% of USAT members, which is still a far cry from half. That is why supporting “Women’s History Month” in the month of March—especially as women triathletes—is so essential.
Women-specific triathlon product lines are growing rapidly, but still lag behind products designed for men. Take, for example, triathlon bikes. There are hundreds on the market with a few brands dominating the playing field. Typically, only one bike per brand is specially designed to fit the unique frame of women, often making it hard for women to get that “perfect fit” on the bike.
Recently, while scrolling through Facebook, I came across an article highlighting bikes at Challenge Dubai. The article showcased 21 bikes belonging to pros at the race. Of these 21 bikes, less than half were those of pro female triathletes. In an effort to promote women in the sport, Ironman™ has launched its “Women for Tri” initiative to increase awareness and interest. The initiative will provide content and training resources specific to women triathletes, as well as a forum for women to communicate and network.
Over the past 115 years, we have made great strides toward equality with men. It’s imperative that we continue to celebrate our past while keeping our eyes focused on a better future. Initiatives like “Women for Tri” and the celebration of “Women’s History Month” help us achieve this goal. Now, the next step may be to transition to a month other than March. I mean, how can we compete with National Potato Chip Day (March 14) and Zombie Awareness Month?? (Oh, wait. That's in May. Whew!)