Hundreds of women working in cycling have joined forces to make their voice heard in a hitherto male-dominated domain.
Women in Cycling (WIC) was officially launched on 24 February this year, with more than 550 participants attending the virtual event. Three weeks later, 270 women had already joined a dedicated Expertise Portal where they can tag their expertise with keywords. The idea is that anyone looking for women for keynote speakers, panels, expertise, jobs, board places or simply for networking can go to the portal and start searching. Meanwhile more than 750 women have already joined a dedicated WIC LinkedIn Group.
These women represent cycling in areas such as industry, non-governmental organisations, civil society, the public sector and government, consultancies, and the media. A high-profile group of ambassadors includes the Union Cycliste Internationale’s (UCI) Advocacy and Development Manager Isabella Burczak.
One of the most influential women in the cycling sector, Giant Group Chairperson and founder of the women’s cycling brand Liv Cycling, Bonnie Tu, addressed the WIC launch: “It is my responsibility and my dream to encourage more women in the cycling industry and to encourage more women to cycle,” she said in her opening address.
She explained that she was prompted to launch the Liv brand after being unable to find a suitable bike and having to wear men’s cycling jerseys: “This was unfair, and I was determined to change this scenario. As half of the world population, we are entitled to enjoy sports cycling,” said Bonnie Tu.
WIC is an initiative of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), Cycling Industries Europe, the German agency for all things bicycle Velokonzept, mobility experts Mobycom and the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI).
The key objective of Women in Cycling is to boost equality and diversity in the cycling sector. The network has a vision for a diverse, inclusive cycling sector that provides equal opportunities and contributes to achieving cycling's full potential.
Lauha Fried, Policy Director at Cycling Industries Europe, explains: "The idea to launch Women in Cycling started at an industry event where, at a Thought Leaders Breakfast debate the room was packed with men but only a handful of women. The initiative came about because of the lack of female representation on all fronts - on industry boards, in leadership roles, on panels, at conferences, in urban planning etc. We were overwhelmed by the response to Women In Cycling, which has clearly showed how big the need was for such an initiative,” she said.
Since its launch, women have used the portal to propose wider networking opportunities, and suggest ideas for workshops, webinars and other events. Lauha Fried, said she and the other founding members would be meeting very soon to discuss governance and the next steps to be taken by Women in Cycling.
UCI welcomes initiative
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) welcomes the initiative, which is in line with the International Federation’s work to improve conditions for women riders – with the introduction of a minimum salary, maximum number of days of racing, sickness cover, maternity cover, life insurance, and increased prize money – and increase the percentage of women in the sport’s governance.
UCI Director General Amina Lanaya said: “As the first woman Director General of the UCI, I fully support the Women In Cycling initiative. At the UCI we have adjusted our Constitution to ensure better representation of women in our governing bodies worldwide, and at our head office in Aigle, Switzerland, we now have EDGE certification for workplace gender equality. The mobilisation of so many women under the Women In Cycling initiative will be great support for the work we are trying to achieve at the UCI.”
UCI Advocacy and Development Manager, Isabella Burczak, added “The bicycle is the perfect tool to promote accessibility, diversity, inclusion, and a more sustainable future for all. I’m therefore delighted to play a part within the cycling family to build a strong and supportive network, ensuring that women working within the cycling industry can reach their full potential.”