Women Mean Business
By Bike Pittsburgh’s Rebecca Susman (guest blogging for Urban Velo)
Last month my colleague Jane Kaminski and I attended the League of American Bicyclists’ 2nd Annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum with the theme “Women Mean Business.” The double entendre of the title was perfectly descriptive as 375 leaders and advocates came together to discuss how women are changing the face of bicycling both within the business of bikes and within communities.
To this day when asked to picture the typical bicyclist, people usually think of a man, possibly wearing either racing spandex or bike messenger attire. Women and men throughout the bicycling world have been working for years to make this just a stereotype, and not the statistical reality of who uses the streets on a bike. We have come a long way, and in 2011 women accounted for 46% of the adults who ride bicycles.
As a bicycle advocate I have attended other national conferences on bicycling including one other women’s forum, but this was the largest woman-focused event by far. It was incredible to be in a room with so many women of diverse backgrounds openly discussing their experiences and hearing the similarities of so many of the stories. I know, and currently work with, some amazing men within both the bicycle advocacy and industry worlds, but this was my first time experiencing an environment in which women of different professional backgrounds (not just the higher-ups) felt comfortable asking questions and speaking their minds. Once given a forum in which they did not feel pressure or fear judgment the floodgates opened, and every workshop I attended ran overtime until they kicked us out of the rooms. The discussions were so engaging and sense of camaraderie affirming that at the end people spoke of a need for more similar forums, and necessary adjustments in advocacy and industry based on the outcomes.
Read the rest of the post with some statistics, ideas, and highlights from the forum here.
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