Nov. 10th, 2015

Ready All!

Nov. 10th, 2015 10:05 am
rebeccmeister: (1x)
[livejournal.com profile] bluepapercup gifted me a copy of this book about George Pocock, which recently got republished, and I finally finished reading it last night. If you read The Boys in the Boat, you may realize why it makes sense to take a more in-depth look at Pocock's life. Brown only has enough space to talk about several of the highlights that led to Pocock's relocation to Seattle and establishment of his boat-building enterprise there.

More than anything, I appreciated Pocock's evocative descriptions of good rowing, and emphasis on expert craftsmanship. This is a book that belongs on any rowing bookshelf.

I'm not entirely looking forward to the next books in the stack. There are two books on getting jobs, on loan from a friend, that I need to deal with and return to the friend (I've had them for about a year now). There are also two older academic books on insect migration, and a book on coxing written by a rower/coxswain I know. Altogether, things that I should give their due, but not things that are exactly pleasant to pick up and work through.

I'm also finally down to around 6 more issues of the New Yorker from 2012. So much of the material remains surprisingly topical.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
There has been some discussion recently among the randonneurs about demographics in randonneuring. I was pleased to discover that there's a breakdown of RUSA membership on the RUSA website, along several different axes, including age and gender. Hm! Eighteen percent women, as compared to the 5% participation rate by women at Paris-Brest-Paris. Of course, not everyone who joins RUSA actually rides in brevets, but it's a benchmark, at least. I believe that at some point the PBP organizers will provide more detailed participation statistics, so we can see whether the US participation at PBP reflects the RUSA membership. If so, this would mean that it's other countries who aren't bringing in women participants. I suspect the reality lies somewhere in-between, but that the US is doing a comparatively good job on this front - of course, that's not to say that we couldn't do better.

So, how does that compare to rowing, my other favorite sport (and, admittedly, first true love)?

Well, a website seeking to help people interested in monetizing the sport* declares that we've gone from 43% of the population as Master's rowers (ages 27+) to 75% Masters between 2004-2008. But note that participation in the sport has also grown, from 177,500 persons (+/- 9%) to 220,000 persons (+/- 9%). While things aren't broken down by both age and gender, it looks like the gender ratio has remained constant between the two surveys, at 55% men and 45% women.

So, wow. This supports my sense that rowing has done WAY better in the gender-balance department than long-distance cycling.

On the other hand, rowing is still overwhelmingly, tremendously white and privileged. But I'm pretty sure that cycling for sport is, too. This last link does a nice job of talking about good reasons to push for improving diversity in rowing, and many of those reasons are equally applicable to cycling.


*I mention this because there are so many potential sources of bias in this report. A quick skim of this site suggests they're trying to be transparent, but it would be useful to see how their numbers compare to USRowing's numbers (which I can't seem to find after an admittedly quick search).

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