Women in Sports

The other day I was asked what it is like to be a woman on a male dominated team. My immediate thought was “pretty cool!” To begin, I don’t mean “cool” in a way that I am lucky to be on the team, I mean it in a way that I have worked my butt off to be on it and to be taken seriously. Something each woman on my team has done.

 

For a bit of background, I am on the Varsity Offshore Sailing Team and I am also the first female captain. We are required to bring one girl to each regatta. So, for a long time that meant that only one out of the eight people who sailed a regatta was a woman. I do not for a second believe any of my coaching staff are misogynists, I believe it comes with being a male dominated sport and there is inherently a difference. Offshore boats are heavier loads, have more sail area, and require more weight to do virtually anything on. Many people sail dinghy’s and stay in them for collegiate sailing by choice, and some people grow up sailing larger Offshore boats and sail for the Offshore team instead- it is just a matter of preference. Our dingy team (smaller two person boats), has many woman, while for a long time after the Offshore team was created there was only one woman on the entire team. As a woman you have to work twice as hard to prove your place on the traveling team, but that is not due to sexism from my experience it is due to the lack of women who choose to sail offshore boats. The loads are heavier on the offshore team and many women are built smaller which creates a huge advantage on the dingy team. For the few women that choose to be on the Offshore team, it can be a bit harder to be on the traveling team.

 

In my experience, the process of becoming the first women Offshore team Captain was the most difficult. That is less so the point, my point is, is that I have watched these women on my team make incredible headway. Within the four years I have been here they have excelled. At our upcoming National Championship, there will be three female’s sailing for our team, not due to a requirement, but due to the fact that they deserve to be there.

 

In my mind, that is pretty cool. Seeing a male dominated sport slowly but surely being more equal is worth the hurdles in the long run.