mother jones chartThis Mother Jones article was an attempt to delineate Olympic sports and gender equality. Good job, but – they overlook that disciplines exist within sports, and even sub-disciplines, or classes, exist within disciplines, then of course events within these disciplines. All levels should have gender equality to the extent possible. (Women’s pommel horse you ask? Why not? Our reproductive organs are safely tucked away inside of us. If ever a discipline was not built for a man – it is pommel horse, and cycling).

Mother Jones provides a detailed chart which is accurate at the Sport level, but dig a little deeper and you find systemic imbalances throughout the programs. We are not a fan of calling the Olympics the “Brolympics” (even though it feels that way when you look at the data and see the doors still shut for women).  Not all sports are open to men – synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.

Here’s our rub: Olympic “Canoeing” in their chart is shown as having women, in both the Sprint and Slalom disciplines. At the Sport level, even the discipline level – this is true.  But, one must dig deeper.  At the discipline and sub-discipline levels, we are grossly imbalanced when you look at the number of athletes, number of events, even the distances women compete in (e.g., male canoeists and kayakers race in 1000 meter events; women only 500 meter events).

WC overview 4

Further troubling is the name: “Olympic Canoeing”. This is Euro-speak for a sport which includes canoe (single blade) and kayak (double blade). By calling everyone canoeists, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) can easily hide that women are still excluded from single-blade paddling.  And, few will look to see that, even without women canoeists, there are still fewer women athletes.  The greatest irony of all is the gross imbalance between kayak and canoe – i.e., there are much fewer canoe events overall (in Sprint it is a 9:3 ratio, kayak to canoe).

It’s all in the Name (or not).

Just like women’s canoeing is not a “Sport” (as so many people claim) – neither is women’s ski jumping.  These Sports have existedWC overview 2 since the 1920’s.  They have just been on the slow road to gender equality.  The IOC did not add a new sport when it added women’s ski jumping to Sochi 2014. It added a women’s event to an existing sport – and women still have 2 more events to go to get equal to the men.  Same issues for “Canoeing”:  the IOC needs to add women’s events events to the “canoe” sub-discipline – in both Sprint and Slalom.

When people complain about adding new sports for gender equality and how bad that is for existing sports and for men – they are missing the boat – literally.

“Canoeing” Myths vs Facts

See Article by Elaine Keene – “Women’s canoeing should have place in Olympics”

Gender Equality Audit of London 2012 – by the University of Toronto. Every journalist should have a copy. Now we need an audit of the Winter Olympics.


WC overview 1  WC overview 3

WC overview 8 WC overview 7 WC overview 6 WC overview 5   WC overview 9  WC overview 10WC overview 11 WC overview 12