Are Attitudes Towards Women In Sport Changing?

This Saturday, a team of three top female jockeys will compete against three teams made up of their male counterparts for the prize of the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup.

Are Attitudes Towards Women In Sport Changing?

This Saturday, a team of three top female jockeys will compete against three teams made up of their male counterparts for the prize of the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup.

The Girls, led by Canadian champion jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson, will be hoping to go one better than last year, when they missed out on the Cup by one point.

Racing is rare in that it is one of the few sports that enables women to compete on equal terms with men. In some sports men competing against women isn't feasible, but there is evidence to show that attitudes to women in sport have not always been entirely positive. [1]

Today, new research by Opinium, released by Ascot Racecourse ahead of this Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, suggests that attitudes to women in sport are changing. In a survey of over 2,000 UK adults, split approximately 50:50 male:female, completed this week, 76% of respondents said that there has been a discernible increase in interest in women's sport recently. Meanwhile, 77% of those who said this thought that interest in women's sport would continue to grow over the next few years.

Nearly half of men (45%) said that recent prominent coverage of events such as the Women's World Cup had changed their perceptions of female sport. Some women went further, with over a fifth (22%) saying that the recent coverage had actually inspired them to try out a new sport.

These figures suggest that attitudes may be changing particularly when seen in the context of the recent BBC Sport survey about sexism in sport. Furthermore the findings of a survey in January which launched the Sport England campaign 'This Girl Can' suggested that many women were fearful of being judged when participating in sport. [2]

This research, and the recent increased interest in women's sport, as evidenced by the high viewing figures for the women's World Cup bodes well for female sport in general. Supporters of women in sport will be rooting for The Girls as they take to Ascot Racecourse on Saturday at the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup. Top jockeys from across the globe will be descending on Ascot to ensure bragging rights are won by either Great Britain & Ireland, Europe, The Rest of the World, or The Girls.

Superstar female jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson said, "The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup is a fantastic event to take part in and the rivalry between the guys and the girls is a really fun one to be a part of. It's an honour to lead The Girls team again and after losing by one point last year we're determined to go one better this year and lift the trophy."

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/32995799

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/get-inspired/30743750

& http://www.sportengland.org/media/806351/gowherewomenare_final_01062015final.pdf

Meanwhile Nick Smith, Head of Communications and International Racing at Ascot Racecourse commented, "The achievements of lady jockeys around the world in a sport where, quite unusually, they can compete on level terms with the men is something we really want to celebrate at Ascot. Judging by these findings, we are not alone in that. Emma-Jayne and Hayley are top class riders and in Sammy Jo, we think we have identified a female star of the future and are delighted to be part of kick starting what we hope will be a hugely successful career by giving her her most high profile opportunity to date. In the US and Canada, there are several lady riders plying their trade at the top - Emma-Jayne of course but also Rosie Nepravnik, who has ridden in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup before. It would be wonderful to see lady jockeys winning regularly at Royal Ascot, the ultimate stage, in the future, just as we see lady jockeys winning at the Breeders' Cup in the USA."

The world's premier international jockeys' competition, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, takes place this Saturday 8th August at Ascot Racecourse. Now in its 15th year, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup is one of Ascot's most loved race meetings. As the only team-format raceday in the UK, racegoers turn out in their thousands to pledge their allegiance to one of four teams. These are made up of top international jockeys seeking victory by collectively acquiring the highest number of points for their team through success across the six-race card. Racing is followed by a free evening concert for racegoers featuring Lulu, Rick Astley, Razorlight and Blue.

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