Gender Segregation and the Olympics

Does anyone think it’s a bit archaic / old-fashioned / oppressive / untoward to still maintain separate gendered events (e.g. men’s and women’s snowboarding / alpine skiing / hockey) in the Olympics? I watched a bit of mixed curling early on in the Olympics, and it seemed refreshingly inclusive. Any chance we see a “mixed snowboard halfpipe” event in 2022/2026/2030?

I don’t think it’s very oppressive to let women have a chance at some medals. Its perfectly understood that top men are better than top women in practically every sport. Even your curling example, men are way better. What makes you ask?

Not anytime soon. Sports is one of the few remaining field in which gender differences are stark, easily recognized, and there is a clear athletic advantage.

Women wouldn’t make the finals in any of those events - so it’d be just easier to eliminate all the women’s sports from the Olympics. The difference in strength in skiing, boarding, and hockey are vast. Men’s and women’s hockey are different enough that they’re almost different sports.

What’s the goal of combining them?

Previous thread.

Watching the “mixed curling” is probably what got it on my mind. I don’t even know the rules there. Could a team of just men (or just women) compete in the mixed curling event, or is it like co-ed soccer where there’s a minimum number of women that must be included?

I hadn’t thought about it long or hard enough to come up with anything I’d grace with the label “goal”. More like a curiosity. There seems to have been a big push in the last few years for including women in areas traditionally manned just by men (like the military), so it seemed like the timing might be about right for sports events to go gender-neutral too.

In other words “Why do they bother having lame sports for girls? Why can’t we just have events open to everyone? Sure, that will mean that 98% of the events will be all men, but that’s not a bug, that’s a feature.”

Yes Ditka, it is a fact of biology that men tend to be bigger, stronger, and faster than women. The NFL and NBA and MLB don’t exclude women, women are perfectly welcome to tryout and compete with the men. So why is it that you don’t see any female NBA players? Because the top players in the WNBA wouldn’t make third string in the NBA.

If we don’t have separate women’s events that exclude men, then there won’t be any women competing in the Olympics. Is that the result you’re advocating?

It’s on the tv right now - it looks like there’s only 2 people per team. So I am guessing one of each is the rule. Regular curling is teams of 4 and I woukd imagine they’d be two of each in that case.

You think you are being cynically clever and getting ahead of him but my cynicism says you played right into his game. Why worry about equal pay and representation in different careers when these obvious biological difference exist which you so forcefully acknowledge? Hmmm?

There are some shooting events in the summer Olympics that could go co-ed, as it were, but I predict that women would get squeezed out eventually not because of some gender disparity in strength, but a gender disparity in interest, i.e. if there are a million potential elite target shooters in the U.S. that are men, there are likely only a fraction of that number who are women because shooting is seen as more of a male pastime and girls subtly (and not so subtly) discouraged from pursuing it. The cohort with the greater number is far more likely to dominate the top spots.

So men are better in every other sport, but in shooting it would only be because of the interest disparity? Seems an odd WAG.

Does it? The mechanics of shooting are such that personal physical strength is a fairly minor element (at least for the pistol and air-gun events) but if there are societal pressures that encourage boys to practice shooting and girls to not do so, then it seems reasonable that a larger pool of boy shooters will produce more elite competitors than a smaller pool of girl shooters.

Anyway, I see mixed-gender shooting events are planned for 2020, so we’ll get some data soon enough.

As already stated, it would not make sense for women to compete with men on the same field in most events. However, I think a better question is why there exists a handicap for women competing against other women - on a different field altogether. For example, the women start lower down on the bobsled run and the downhill ski events. In the summer Rio games the women’s road bike race covered a different (and shorter) course, and the women’s marathon, while the same distance, covered a different (and flatter) route than the men’s. In my hometown marathon the women run the same course at the same time as the men, but there are two finish lines, and I think there are some women-only running events, but they run the same course as the men.

I am sure there are other examples of women’s events taking an easier course than the men’s. What gives?

Bowling, archery, darts and pool also have minimal strength requirements but men dominate still.

Strength is actually a factor in both bowling and archery. It is less of a factor than in the NBA or NFL, but still a factor and gives men an advantage. A cite for bowling, since it may seem less intuitive.

Darts and pool, like shooting are probably less dependent on physical strength. But you still have the issue Bryan Ekers mentioned, which is that probably one thousand times more men are interested in the sport than women. And they are far more likely to develop that interest earlier and hone their skills longer. Women will largely be swamped out by sheer numbers.

Very generally:
In the rifle events, the women shoot a lighter weapon and fire fewer shots in the same time period.
I’d have to look up the specifics but strength does play a role.

In theory you could open both men’s and women’s gymnastics to both genders. My understanding is that women have advantages WRT the specific types of routines in women’s gymnastics and vice versa, so I would think the gender representations would mostly remain without being official regulations.

But that’s a fundamentally different rationale than having separate genders because of inherent physical differences.

One that comes to mind: the assorted tennis championships where men are settling the issue in best-of-five-sets fashion while the women are going best-of-three.

Well, darts and pool, certainly. I’m not sure that these are pursued and practiced at gender-comparable numbers, though.

Is there a sport that is actively played through child- and adulthood in equal numbers by both genders (or more so by girls) and which is largely strength-indifferent? Gymnastics? Figure-skating? Diving? For figure-skating, if the merits were completely artistic and not technical, i.e. no extra points for feats like a triple-axel, which favours male competitors…

I see surfing and skateboarding are being added in 2020, among others. These seem fairly gender-neutral. Of course, even if sports like these are pursued in comparable numbers of boys and girls, I figure lingering sexism will have male athletes getting more attention, more sponsorships and endorsement deals, more private funding, and that can certainly have an impact on performance.

I suspect virtually every sport or hobby is pursued by unequal numbers of both genders. Overall, women / girls seem to show less interest in sports than men / boys (which is one of the reasons Title IX seems a bit off-base to me).