International Women’s Day was this week, and this year we wanted to do something a bit different for it.
While we used the opportunity to celebrate some of the incredible female staff and regulars we have, we want to do far more to impart real positive change.
Everyone who climbs here says they love how inclusive the environment can be. Men and women projecting the same climbs, kids and adults climbing together, so many people from all sorts of age groups, backgrounds and professions. People just starting out, to people who have been climbing for years.
But we are aware climbing needs to do more to reach certain sections of society – and this includes women. In 2014, there were 1.75 million fewer women playing sport than men according to an Active People survey. While numbers in general are increasing, that gap between men and women is not changing vastly.
We see it on the mats, and in our own data. In our recent Big Winter Comp at Tunbridge Wells, 61 men entered a score and only 18 women. Even in the juniors there was a discrepancy – 12 girls to 29 boys. On any given night, men generally out-number women here.
While we have loved celebrating our strong women in the past – the inspirational mums, those coming back after a long time off raising kids, teenagers for whom climbing is a huge part of how they de-stress from exam times, those in their twenties trying to juggle careers with having a life, we need to do more to really reach those women for whom exercise is still on the backburner.
But how? That’s the big question, and not one we can answer by ourselves.
Is it the cost? Intimidated by walking in? Have no one to climb with? Worried about embarrassing yourselves? Worried about injuries? Don’t have the right clothes? Unsure if you’ll even get off the ground?
Are you just too tired after a long day at work, or an even longer day wrestling children into high chairs and romper suits?
Do you struggle with anything new, or is it specifically exercise that’s a bit daunting?
We want to hear from women, all women, any women. We want to know what it is that’s holding you back. Please share this with all the women in your lives, especially those who don’t currently exercise.
We can only improve our centre if we know exactly what you lot need from us.
We’ll share some more information on our blog this week that we think will help a few of you get started, but if we are to really make big strides into eating into that exercise gap between men and women, we need to hear from you individually as to why you don’t - or can’t - exercise.
Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop us a DM on Facebook or Instagram. With your feedback, we might be able to make a real positive impact on the local community.