Thoroughbred racing is still in many ways a man’s world. Even though women like Julie Krone, Criquette Head, Haley Turner, Chantal Sutherland and others may now and then have changed the perspectives for a while.
But although men and women should compete on equal terms, the sport is dominated by the male sex.
That’s on the outside – what the audience will see. How is it on the inside – in the administration of the sport? Well, I would say it’s even worse.
Let’s take racing’s world congress, the IFHA meeting, as an example. As always it’s arranged in Paris the day after the Arc.
This year it was attended by 86 delegates. Of these 78 were men and 8 women. There were also some observers from countries which yet are not members and also from other organisations. If we include them there were 115 persons listening to the chairman and the other board members. 10 of them were women, less than 10 per cent.
And how about the board of IFHA. There are 15 voting members? How many women? Guess … zero.
Is this a problem? Yes, in my view. In my experience (quite long nowadays) men who form groups together tend to be quite conservative, while women are more open minded. Of course this is a simplification and generalization but not far from the truth, I would say.
Well, I worked for a long time within racing. How about my own conscience? It could be better of course but as Secretary General I tried to stimulate education. And as women often are more interested in education than men this and other steps have resulted in that about 60 per cent of the trainers and jockeys in Sweden are female.
My right – and sometimes even left – hand within the Swedish Jockey Club was a woman and she still has a strong role there.
Another little example: In the informal organisation European Racing Development Conference (ERDC) we were just three board members but one of them was a woman.
ERDC’s successor the European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation (EMHF) have unfortunately gone back to the old pattern. Not a woman in the Board.
Maybe time to discuss this issue. Or it is so much less important than to discuss doping, interference, betting and other serious things?
Picture: Nice men but still just men (representing EMHF in 2013). (Even the photographer is a man – myself)