/ Gender / climbing comps / BMC

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duchessofmalfi - on 21 Jan 2013
Can anyone tell me why the BMC youth competitions are divided according to gender with separate boys and girls comps and no "open" competition?

It be interested in the "rules" type of answer as well as views on whether or not this is a "good idea" or fair?
highclimber - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: you could ask the same about other sports such as tennis, football and swimming.

Men/boys are physically different from women/girls so as to create a disadvantage to one group over the other.
duchessofmalfi - on 21 Jan 2013
Just because I could ask this question elsewhere doesn't mean it isn't valid to ask it here but since this point has been raised:

Short men are physically different from tall men - we should enforce competitions along height lines if "physical difference" was the overriding reason.

Many sports are gender neutral up to a point (but clearly not climbing).

Rachel Slater - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

It's true women are very physically different to men so to put them in the same category in a comp would be unfair.
duchessofmalfi - on 21 Jan 2013
Unfair on whom?

What evidence is there to suggest that pre-puberty there is significant difference relevant to climbing?

And, as I said "difference" is not sufficient justification because (evidently) lots of types difference are not taken into account (eg height).

What justifies elevating gender difference above all else, especially for a childrens' competition where gender difference is arguably very small?

I might be able to understand girls, boys and open to all? what good reason is there to stop girls and boys competing (please just don't reply "they're different" because it isn't an answer).



highclimber - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
>
> Many sports are gender neutral up to a point (but clearly not climbing).


you say it's clearly not gender neutral so, clearly you must know why!
highclimber - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: some climbing competitions do recognise age as another classification and it's very obvious why they do this, isn't it?
duchessofmalfi - on 21 Jan 2013
I'm not sure I understand either of highclimber's points but in case it is a genuine comment and not a troll:

Many sports compete on an open footing with not division between genders especially at a young age. I know BMC climbing competitions are not gneder neutral in this way - I don't know why either (a) by the rationale of the BMC (or other sport climbing governing body) or (b) why this might possibly be a good idea generally.

I understand that there is significant physical and developmental difference with age and that this forms a basis for discrimination to provide fair competition and encourage participation. I cannot see how these arguments apply to gender at an early age or why these arguments preclude the possibility of an open competition.
rwong9 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: I agree with you that prepuberty there is little difference between boys and girl abilities in climbing. However puberty strikes at different ages in different people. Are climbers to be assessed for stages of pubertal development, then place in mixed or single sex categories? I dont think the kids or parents or BMC would be very keen on this. Further the Welsh championships used to have mixed groups. Surprise surprise the boys got the top places.
rwong9 - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: You also mentioned height. Good setters at these comps are aware this issue may disadvantage some competitors and attempt to set routes/problems specifically for small people, so that they should all be able to reach the next hold.
duchessofmalfi - on 21 Jan 2013
So other sports which don't split genders at an early age are doing something wrong?

As I said I can see arguments where the is proven difference leading to justifiable discrimination (for instance weight categories in boxing) but
this might lead to weight / height divisions before it leads to gender division.

I don't think it has been demonstrated in this thread yet that there is a a good reason to discriminate on gender at early age for climbing and don't see that this justifies the preclusion from an open competition at any age. If men dominate the open so what? why would you stop women from competing with them?


john arran - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

I can say with some confidence that the reason that boys and girls have their own categories is that it was never really considered to separate them.
I was largely instructive (along with Ian Parnell) in dreaming up and planning the original BRYCS youth series while I was Development Officer at the BMC in 1996 and we simply didn't consider the possibility of mixing sexes in the same category. We thought of lots of things, like which ages should be leading or even competing at all, which disciplines should be included, how many climbs/problems we should try to include and how to mix regional rounds and a national finel, but we just didn't think to put boys and girls together. It simply didn't come up as a possibility for consideration. Maybe we were all sexist, maybe realistic, who knows? but whatever it was it was subconscious.
That's the reality. No conscious discrimination whatsoever.
Would I do the same if I was setting it up for the first time now? I really don't know is the simple answer as I can see pros and cons both ways.
winhill - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

How much experience have you had to teaching prepubescent children?

How has this experience informed your question?
tom_in_edinburgh - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> Unfair on whom?
>
> What evidence is there to suggest that pre-puberty there is significant difference relevant to climbing?
>

I watched a competition last year with 8-9 year old boys and girls climbing in different categories but on the same route. If there hadn't been different categories I'm pretty sure the top 3 places would all have been boys.

There was a distinct difference in climbing style - girls were more careful, better balance, better footwork. Boys had more strength and aggression and were maybe slightly bigger. The strength and aggression would have won it - the boys were dynoing and catching on the crux and some of them came off in the attempt where the girls were backing off or being half hearted and staying on the wall.

Although I'm pretty sure the boys would dominate on the normal competition routes I'm not sure you couldn't come up with a route style or scoring system where the girls would have an advantage. Maybe really balancy routes on a slab where there's no chance to dyno. Or a scoring system where caution is rewarded by taking points off for falling.

duchessofmalfi - on 21 Jan 2013
If I was a young climber interested in competitions I'd want to be the best climber not the "best boy" or "best girl". I can see arguments for making divisions (for instance on age) that are really there to promote participation, however, I'm not convinced that gender is the most logical or consistent one and it does deserve scrutiny.

I'm really struggling to see what people would have against a gender open competition at any age (bear in mind that this does _not_ stop gender specific competitions from existing).

I'm perfectly happy with John Arran's historical view point above in which he seems to have a good an open perspective - I'd like to see this issue debated and up for discussion and change in the future.

In reply to Winhill's point - yes I know lots of children of all ages and yes this has informed my question: put it this way (and accepting the forums view of the centre of gravity re performance) if I were a top girl climber I'd be pretty pissed off that the BMC chose to prevent me from competing at the top level. If I were a boy (same performance assumptions) I wouldn't wouldn't be worried.

In answer to tom_in_edinburgh and taking the previous paragraph into account I'd say that, especially at an early age, the gender determined choices of the parents (ie more boys taken to climbing walls by fathers than girls by mother or fathers) probably plays a greater role than anything else. Route setting is also an issue, Tom basically says "some routes suit boys, some girls and the route setters set routes that boys excel on rather than girls". It probably isn't as simple as that but I bet men outnumber women as route setters by at least 10:1 (ditto women instructors).

In football, girls and boys play together until the age of 11 at which point girls' participation rates crash because, as a minority in the sport, they can't form teams easily. This is a contentious point but the FA is sticking to it. If I was a brilliant footballer (who happened to be a women) I'd want a bloody good reason why I shouldn't play in the top leagues (which happen to be men only). [I think there was a case of an Italian club a couple of years ago that signed a women and was threatened with expulsion from the league if she played.] The FA's best argument is that allowing women to play in the top flight (men only football) would harm women's football by depriving it of talent.

Personally I can't see girls' climbing competitions being harmed by an open to all version.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

> Personally I can't see girls' climbing competitions being harmed by an open to all version.

I imagine most of the time the girls and boys of the same age group are using the same route. The scoring system is also the same. If you can find the full scores for a competition on the web you could easily rank the boys and girls in a single category and see the result.

The top girls will have a good idea how they'd do against the top boys in an open competition because they'll have watched them climb the same routes. I suspect if there was only one category and everything else stayed the same a lot of girls would figure the intense training wasn't worth it because there was no real chance of winning.


Kettledrum on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: In my experience as a parent of a child who competes regularly in BMC YCS, the girls are often more technical climbers and have less fear at a younger age. They also tend to be more mature, hence think more strategically. In the YCS, boys and girls up to Youth C will generally climb identical routes so it is easy to compare the two. The older children get, the more routes that require brute strength favour the boys whereas the more technical, gymnastic moves favour the girls. A good route setter accommodates this.
Kemics - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

might seem slightly redundant question? But why would you do this?

Competition in climbing will always be split between men and women. So why mix them only to segregate later? Seems better to stick to one format so everyone is familiar with it. I don't see what it actually would achieve.
winhill - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> If I was a young climber interested in competitions I'd want to be the best climber not the "best boy" or "best girl".

Unfortunately, although I asked regarding your experiences, you've replied expressing your feelings, which are individual and not representative of 8 YO girls.

You asked for evidence, much of which would be anecdotal, but could be interesting, but then you've gone backwards to express your feelings rather than offer any evidence.

I was going to suggest the same as Tom, that you go back through some of the past results to try to establish a case. I had a quick look but can't be bothered if you can't.

Boys and Girls don't climb the same routes up to (including?) group C, even youth E girls and boys can have differnt routes (this is certainly the case at the YCS finals 60 kids on the same routes!?!).

Whether the regions do may depend on the amount of time that the individual wall has to set routes and how they manage the running time for the event.

In my experience the top boys will beat the top girls, I can think of 1 girl I know who could bash it out with the best boys but it's rare. With the emphasis on fun and participation, I think there would need to be really good evidence that girls overall would benefit from being ranked along side the boys and then it would probably just be a few of the best girls not the girl's as a whole.

I'm not sure football is a good example, partly because they'd struggle to put teams out if they didn't allow girls into the boys' teams but also the best boys much younger than U13 play with other boys. I know an 11YO that plays for Sheff Utd youth and although girls aren't excluded for being girls, they aren't in the best youth teams.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
Q: "might seem slightly redundant question? But why would you do this?"
A: Why not? I don't think there has been a convincing case for gender division made here.

Q: "Examine the past results?"
A: What does this tell you? it certainly won't tell you about the potential performance of both genders in absolute terms because the data will be too contaminated by other things. It doesn't seem to inform about the principle of the matter. It will almost certainly say that boys compete at a higher level than girls, but as argued above there are many factors other than gender determined physical difference at work here.

Winhill points to one girl who winhill says could compete at the top level - my question is "why not let her compete at the top level? why stop her?" and nothing in this thread has convinced me that there is a good reason not to. I think the reason I'm not seeing a good reason here is because there isn't one.

so to go back to my original post:
Q: why a gender split and why no open competition?

--*BMC comp rules perspective:
A: (from John Arran) this issue wasn't considered at the time.

--*Is it a good idea or fair perspective:

A: The case for a gender split has rests on:
"Other sports do it" [this isn't a reason]
"Boys and girls are different" [so are tall and short people]
"Boys climb better" [at the moment]
"Routes suit boys" [wonder why that is?]
"Boys are thuggy and girls are technical" [but why no tech routes?]
"It is going to happen anyway" [this isn't a reason]
"It is unfair on the girls" [how so? nothing stops a girl comp in parallel]
None of these stand close scrutiny or answer the question.

Use this example: Assume, just for the sake of argument, boys will be better than girls (for any reason you choose). The top flight competition is "boys only" by this assumption. Along comes an exceptional girl climber...

-Is it fair to exclude her from top flight competition?
-Who loses out if she is allowed to compete?
-Why is it better to exclude her?

Having had a lot of experience teaching kids to climb over many years I'd say that as far as ability, potential and style goes the answer is: "it depends [on the kid, not the gender]".

I think this deserve re-examination by the BMC.

KiwiPrincess - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

definately some comps the girls winner could have won the men's possibly, I went to one( not in UK where the winning female never fell off so they bought her out on the Mens as a show case and she would have placed highly ( years ago so can't remember if 1 or 2)
That is where down hill, marathons etc are good since there is the same course you can compare yourself over all not just in your age group/ gender

The rate of development differs so much as youth. It probably better to seperate categories while developing to keep them Encouraged for both sexes. It Is difficult for Boys in the I cant control my big feet stage, and girls when they curve out changing their balance.
joel182 - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> A: The case for a gender split has rests on:
> "Boys and girls are different" [so are tall and short people]

It's a lot easier to point to a dividing line between boys and girls than between tall and short though.
ashley1_scott - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
I did find it a little funny earlier that you questioned if Highclimber was asking a question or just trolling, as this seems very much like a troll style question in itself.

I believe the main reason that The BMC do separate boys and girls comp is because they are trying to find the best boys and the best girls to take to national level to compete on the European stage. And as all European comps are split, why bother using a selection process that differs from the comp.

It also seems that you have decided that no matter what answers people give that are not correct, maybe if you want to have a stronger say in how The BMC rule their comps then become a member of them and get people to put your name forward for committee, then they can turn around and tell you. "It's just the way we do it"
Kettledrum on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: Of course they cannot set the final routes the same. Logistics do not allow this. At least two of the areas I know use a route setting matrix that means boys and girls compete up to youth c on the same routes inthe regional qualifiers.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to joel182:
"It's a lot easier to point to a dividing line between boys and girls than between tall and short though."

Sure it is easy but that doesn't make it right...

Chris the Tall - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

> I think this deserve re-examination by the BMC.

Have you volunteered to help the BMC at comps? Volunteered to be a youth rep and sit on the committee that decides such matters ?

As John has said, the reason it's done the way it is is that nobody thought of doing it differently.

I can how splitting the genders would cause a problem if making up a team was an issue, or in a simple race, but I don't see the problem if the kids are competing on the same problems and get the same prizes.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to ashley1_scott:

" they are trying to find the best boys and the best girls to take to national level to compete on the European stage."

- I fail to see why an open comp gets in the way here - you can still pick the best from each gender to go forward.
Scott K - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: There have been a lot of good reasons given why the kids are split by gender. Size of groups, why have one group to split them later, Europeans are all split. You have chosen to disregard them all. I would also add that the kids tend to socialise better in their own genders when younger.
Why don't you arrange an open comp yourself and see what interest you get. You would then be in a better position decide if the genders should be split.
Howardw1968 - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

In reading your everyone's posts several assumptions seem to have been made

1)That the best climbers want to be in the competitions in the first place.
2)That all participants have received the same level of support/training
3)That everyone is having a good day on competition day

To give this my perspective particularly on the above,

1) I haven't let my daughter enter a competition yet even though the local one she would be allowed (they have a super low age bracket for pushy parents to enter their kids ;) just because we want to encourage the hobby and personal achievement 'doing it for herself' rather than the competitive angle.
2)A trained 5 year old girl can beat an untrained 6 year old boy no problem but if the boy had received the same training/support then he should slaughter her. Can you build in a handicap system based on this element and results like I used to have in Bowling (ten pin)?
3)Injury cost Shauna Coxsey the ladies world bouldering title, too many on the day factors are involved so how do you factor that in or are you just supposed to carry on regardless?

So to finish and my comment on the original question about seperating boys and girls in competition?
The best in competitions is not just related to the Sex, but training, personal ambition (yes I accept kids want to win) also as adults we have to be aware of childs abilities wht are their limits because they dont know even simple stuff like bed times. By pitting boys and girls openly against each other could we be pushing one or other too hard causing injuries that while they are still developing could remain damaged their whole life. Generally at this age the 'Squad'training' is mixed Gender so they know how they stack up boys against girls.
Part of the use of youth competitions is to get used to being in competitions if they run on radically different systems then it isn't going to help the competitors later?
Anyway I've rambled enough

ps my dad could woop your dads arse anyday ;)
Howardw1968 - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Scott K:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi) You have chosen to disregard them all. I would also add that the kids tend to socialise better in their own genders when younger.

I disagree based on my daughter but maybe she's the odd one!
ads.ukclimbing.com
Blue Straggler - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Scott K:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)

> You have chosen to disregard them all.

Why light a candle when it's easier to complain about it being dark? :-)
John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

I agree, in fact across many sports the wish to drive a wedge between genders as rapidly as possible is undesirable and creates a very early start to gender inequality.

In terms of whether boys or girls climb better in competitions at present that's actually kind of irrelevant. Most competition routes are set by men and hence are (a) severely overhanging and (b) have huge distances between holds.

It might be interesting to see if a competition where the routes were slabby and technical rather than very steep and thuggy would result in a more mixed winners rostrum.

Certainly pre-pubescent I can't see much reason why it shouldn't be mixed, and to be honest, with intelligent route setting (i.e. not just making the harder routes require more strength and power or be at a silly gradient) I can't see why all climbing comps shouldn't be mixed.
winhill - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
>
> In terms of whether boys or girls climb better in competitions at present that's actually kind of irrelevant. Most competition routes are set by men and hence are (a) severely overhanging and (b) have huge distances between holds.
>
> It might be interesting to see if a competition where the routes were slabby and technical rather than very steep and thuggy would result in a more mixed winners rostrum.
>
> Certainly pre-pubescent I can't see much reason why it shouldn't be mixed, and to be honest, with intelligent route setting (i.e. not just making the harder routes require more strength and power or be at a silly gradient) I can't see why all climbing comps shouldn't be mixed.

This talk of 'pre-pubescent' is unhelpful unless we nail it down to age groups, youth C, which is 11,12,13 year olds certainly includes some post pubescent kids.

So are you and the duchess talking about youth E + D only? Youth D+E routes are never overhanging, Youth C it would only be the last route, bouldering problems, perhaps an interesting start on the last one but not over hanging higher up.
Kemics - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

Would it be a massively mistaken assumption to think you have a prodigious climbing daughter? and perhaps would glean just a tiny bit of a satisfaction from observing over a cup of coffee with other parents "oh yes our daughter X (I'd like to think she's called Fantasia or something) is very special. You know, she's so good she can even beat the boys" presumably finishing this sentence with an eyebrow rise and sly sip of coffee.

Of course I might be completely mistaken on all accounts....might not have kids, let alone kid/s who climb. It just seems to me the only real benefit for mixing genders is additional bragging rights for pushy parents of exception girl climbers.
Blue Straggler - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Kemics:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
>
>
> Of course I might be completely mistaken on all accounts....might not have kids, let alone kid/s who climb. It just seems to me the only real benefit for mixing genders is additional bragging rights for pushy parents of exception girl climbers.

I know we are mostly attacking the OP here but I think here you are being very harsh. Surely an exceptional girl climber HERSELF would benefit from the satisfaction of having done really well in a non-segregated competition. I would hope so anyway.
MJ - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

Your interest in competitions seems somewhat mixed: -

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=533023&v=1#x7158731
Kemics - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

You're right. Apologies if that was offensive/harsh.

I only said that as talking to my female friends about this topic, they all were very against it. I was wondering why someone (not a competitor..assuming the OP is over 13) would have such a vested interest. But the only sports I have competed in have been fencing and grappling...and obviously gender plays a much bigger role as you compete direct against people.
John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Kemics:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
> >
> Of course I might be completely mistaken on all accounts....might not have kids, let alone kid/s who climb. It just seems to me the only real benefit for mixing genders is additional bragging rights for pushy parents of exception girl climbers.

I think that's just a plain daft statement, to be honest, and says a lot more about you than the OP.

For me its about equality.

Whilst I accept that there are some sports where division into gender classes is necessary (primarily those based on strength and speed (1)), I think that many more sports are divided than actually need to be. At present at the Olympics, the equestrian events are not segregated, however I utterly fail to see why, for example, the shooting events are segregated into Gender (or so Wiki tells me).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_at_the_Summer_Olympics

Personally I think that we (unnecessarily) drive gender apart from a very early age. Girls = Pink, Boys = Blue, etc. Whilst there is an element of nature as opposed to nurture here, society sets up women as sex objects very early on, whose job is to look pretty and little else. Men are equally shown/given roles where aggression and strength is the primarily delimiter of success.

I'm not convinced this is to society's benefit. Actually, stronger than that, I think it is to society's significant detriment. Clearly this is a bigger debate though than who should compete in climbing competitions. One could also mention that Male events (of all sports) are typically given a bigger and better billing than female events. Prize money is bigger for male events. The bl**dy sliver plated penis substitute given as a prize is bigger, etc, etc.

I think therefore that whilst it is a small thing, it is an important thing, that where mixed competitions can occur they should occur. Climbing is one of these – if the first person to free climb El Cap can be female after hundreds of male attempts I’m d@mn sure that a competition could be set up so as to not quite so obviously play to strengths primarily held by men (oh look, the last move’s a bl**dy massive dyno, sort of thing).

JHx


(1) ..and one can make a comment here about why are most sports based on characteristics which are primarily exhibited by men? In most sports being taller and stronger is an advantage. I’m failing to think of any sport where being smaller is an advantage. Competitive sport generally is set up so men can win it. Not consciously, no-one sat down and said “lets have a competition where a prize will be given to the person who can throw a really heavy weight the longest distance”, because sport evolved out of war, and war was a male preserve, as women were deliberately excluded. However whether sport should still be set up in the 21st century so that the tallest or strongest will naturally get a massive advantage is another thing and appears a bit of a throwback.
tlm - on 22 Jan 2013
winhill - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to Kemics)
>
> I know we are mostly attacking the OP here but I think here you are being very harsh. Surely an exceptional girl climber HERSELF would benefit from the satisfaction of having done really well in a non-segregated competition.

The problem with the OP is that it is effectively asking people to disprove a negative.

It's like asking about the structural integrity of sand castles built on feelings and then rejecting any evidence that isn't a peer reviewed paper on the structural integrity of sand castles built on feelings.

The girl in your example may come seventh in an 'open' event but could have won a girls event. Generally if competitors can develop winning ways that is a good thing but it is possible some 8YO girls would feel greater satisfaction from coming 7th rather than 1st, but how does it help us?
Chris the Tall - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
The key question is whether having a gender split will encourage or discourage participation amongst girls. The OP made a very valid point regarding football teams (vicous circle of not enough girls, so not enough teams) but I don't see how that could apply here.

Blue Straggler - on 22 Jan 2013
Newsflash:

Girls can climb overhanging routes and do dynos and other big moves.
Boys can do very technical slab routes.

I've seen it. With my own eyes.

Splendid.
Kemics - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

pfft next thing you'll be telling me women can park and men know how to cook. Ridiculous :P
Graeme Alderson on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Chris the Tall: I suspect that it will lower participation as the not so good young female climbers will drop out
neuromancer - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

Ignoring practical experience of the topic, I frankly find it hard to see why open competition at any level is a bad idea.

I understand that gender specific competitions are, in isolation, beneficial in improving participation, and if we believe increased participation to be a universal 'good' then that is 'good', but I don't see any justification for seperating out 'official championships' anymore than I feel like the bmc should run a specific championship for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Or for people who are shorter than 5ft.
tlm - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> Winhill points to one girl who winhill says could compete at the top level - my question is "why not let her compete at the top level?

So you are arguing that competing against other girls is not competing at the 'top level'?

Therefore you are arguing that boys are better climbers than girls?

Which then seems like an argument for segregation?
Howardw1968 - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to winhill:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
> [...]

>
but it is possible some 8YO girls would feel greater satisfaction from coming 7th rather than 1st, but how does it help us?


ON which planet?

It's a competition if your in it you want to win it or your section of it.
Jonny2vests - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to neuromancer:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
>
> Ignoring practical experience of the topic, I frankly find it hard to see why open competition at any level is a bad idea.
>
> I understand that gender specific competitions are, in isolation, beneficial in improving participation, and if we believe increased participation to be a universal 'good' then that is 'good', but I don't see any justification for seperating out 'official championships' anymore than I feel like the bmc should run a specific championship for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Or for people who are shorter than 5ft.

So apart from the fact that women wouldn't enter, you think all competitions should be mixed? You do talk some waffle.
SAF - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: Haven't had time to read the whole thread, so apologese if any of my points have already come up.

As a female who has competed at various ages in various sports, predominantly male dominated sports (downhill mountainbikng, Winsurfing-wave comps, occasionaly climbing comps). I think that there are various reasons why single sex categories were favourable and sometimes not, but not neccesarily fot the obvious reasons like size, strenght etc.

For many competitors sports events are not simply about winning, they are about turning up competing and meeting people... thus for many females having there own gender groups can be a nice social thing.

Women and men think differently in many ways, I've been on coached windsurfing holidays where they had all female groups with all female coaches, and the company, a very succesful one, always had very positive outcomes and feedback from these weeks, citing that women learnt differenlty, generally being more supportive of each other and less competitive against each other than male groups, this is similar in my experience in competitive sports events, and something that possibly women would lose in mixed gender groups.

In sports where women are in a minority it can be very daunting breaking into the competition scene. Gender specific groups can help this (see point above regarding supportiveness) but sometimes gender specifc groups can add to the problem, since a mediocre male would just blend into the middle field within his group, whereas a female stands out from the word go, adding, often, unwanted pressure. There were times in both mountain biking and windsufing that I wished I could have competed in with the men, and finished in the mid to bottom of the field without anyone really noticing or caring, having had a fun time, rather than finishing 3rd out of 3 and having to stand on the podium after coming last!!!
Kettledrum on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: For young boys and girls that have approximately equal training opportunities, there is no reason girls and boys should not compete together. Rwong9 mentions the Welsh championships as a case in point up to 2011. For the 8-10 age category in '09, '10 and '11, there are boys and girls in the top 3. By 11-13, the gender differences seem to kick in.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
I'm glad it has livened up in here, yesterday I thought it was just me and some old fossils from St Andrews golf club in here...

From what I read I can see no good reason for not holding an open competition - for those that care, you can pull out separate male and female rankings. Otherwise most of the objections are complete bollocks or sexism dressed up to look pretty.

All these competitions are rather silly and vainglorious anyway - I can see how they're fun but I don't think the should be taken too seriously. I really can't see a good case for prohibiting open competition - it isn't like we need your patronising favours anyway!


Howard J - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: Why do you believe that having separate competitions is "discrimination"? Are the girls' competitions somehow inferior to those of the boys? Don't senior competitions have male and female categories?

This is genuine question - I know nothing about how these competitions are organised. I'm just unclear why it you see it as discrimination.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Howard J:

Well it is obviously discrimination because it involves discriminating between the sexes. if there wasn't discrimination the boys and girls would compete together!

I suppose you could hold two competitions calling one "boys" and one "girls" and let either gender enter either competition (hence it wouldn't be discriminatory) but I don't think the BMC allows this (although I bet there isn't a rule against it).
tom_in_edinburgh - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

> I really can't see a good case for prohibiting open competition - it isn't like we need your patronising favours anyway!

The best reason for having separate male and female competitions is that the 8 - 10 year old girls who compete like it that way. They've got more chance of winning something and they can chat and play with other girls while they are waiting to climb.
Howardw1968 - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
>
>
> All these competitions are rather silly and vainglorious anyway -

If that is what you think of competitions than why did you bother asking this question?


duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Howardw1968:

I'm not the slightest bit interested in golf but feel perfectly entitled to take an opinion on men only membership.

I am interested in why there is a gender split - the official answer (we didn't think about it) was illuminating and the debate here worthwhile even if I think working out who climbs plastic best is a bit silly.
nasher47 on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

You said you wanted a good and open debate but you seem very much to have made up your mind before you even started... doesn't that make the whole thing a little futile, especially if you don't really think competition worthwhile?

Realistically there are major generally noted physical differences between males and females and also in the ages they hit puberty. You have noted that there are also differences within the sexes however these (appart form height) are not so severe.

Women will tend to have wider hips and narrower shoulders (this is an anatomical fact so please don't argue).
Men conversely have the opposite which helps to explain why men tend to perform comparatively better on powerful problems (they have naturally stronger upper bodies)

Girls tend to hit puberty before boy which means that were you to put an 12 year old girl against a 12 year old boy the chances are the girl would be taller and therefore have an advantage. As the boys catch up they will invariably take over which means by the time they get to 16/17 the boys will have the advantage.

You can't blame the route setters either, if you look at the achievements of men and women on outdoor routes or boulder problems you will see that there are not very many women who have climbed the very top grades.

Finally kids clubs in climbing centres are heavily weighted in favour of girls over boys so clearly there aren't that many more "fathers taking their sons" and even if there were then your beef should be with the mothers who are not rather than the fathers who are.

What exactly do you feel would be gained by sticking them all in it together? I know that of the 8 girls I coach only 1 of them would want to compete against boys so you'd probably just end up making it even more "sexist" than you already perceive it to be.

You should also review your definition of discrimination. Currently the kids are all afforded the same opportunity which is to be the best climber in their category.

Really your point of view can only be justified if you advocate 1 competition for all, i.e me, a 6 year old girl and Dave Barrans all in the same competition. Otherwise you're just as bad as the people you're criticizing.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to nasher47:
"same opportunity which is to be the best climber in their category"

Like the same opportunity to sit on a bus seat in their category?


TBH one youth comp for all with different categories pulled out the ranking list makes a deal of sense to me.
Blue Straggler - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
>
>
> TBH one youth comp for all with different categories pulled out the ranking list makes a deal of sense to me.


Let's imagine that the top three girls came 3rd, 18th and 34th in this.
Great for the girl who came third ("ooh wow look only two boys scored better and that's only because the routes were all overhanging brainless thugfests set by sexist tall men"). Not so good for the other two, who would probably rather have it on record only that they took second and third place in the girls' competition.

nasher47 on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to nasher47)

> Like the same opportunity to sit on a bus seat in their category?
>
>
> TBH one youth comp for all with different categories pulled out the ranking list makes a deal of sense to me.


Absolutely, they are all free to sit in any seat that is not a disabled or priority seat. We should really get rid of this whole making concessions for disabled people thing, it's just condescending and discriminatory.

When I was I little younger was able to run the 100m faster than the women's world record however I have never even won a national competition in the UK... If all of the competitions had been open to both sexes no girls would ever have won anything.

How can you be so naive as to think that this separation is anything other than positive for women?

As much as anything a single open youth competition would be unmanageable due to the number of competitors that would have to climb on the same routes. You'd also create an workable height difference from the youngest girls to the oldest boys which would make the rankings unworkable as either none of the girls would get off the floor or all of the boys would top out so they'd all have the same score.


Again, your argument falls down at the point you make it a youth competition as you are then just discriminating by age rather than sex. You can't have it both ways.

TBH the current categories function very well. There's more of a problem with the format being hugely out of date.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Easy: girl A came 3rd in the open, girl B came 18th etc

A ranked 1st out of the girls
B ranked 2nd out of the girls etc
C ranked 3rd...

Give them medals based on this now what have you lost?
winhill - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to nasher47:

it's a trollfest, don't bother.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to nasher47:

I suppose you could argue, "this separation is anything other than positive for women", much the same way the FA argues that preventing women from playing in the premiership is good for women's football. This assumes that the greater good is served by lumping the individuals into a category and defending the rights of the category.

Just because it is good for "women" as a category (and I would dispute this) doesn't mean it is good for an individual women who might be prohibited from competing at her level because she lacks testicles.
nasher47 on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to winhill:

Thanks, I'll take your advice. I'm out.
John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to nasher47:

Y'see, the problem I have with the argument that girls are different to boys - which I will accept as perfectly true - is that the argument falls down when comparing boys to boys.

If someone can happily accept that a 4' 8-year-old-boy can fairly compete against a 4'6 8-year-old (or for that matter a 6'6" man can compete against a 5'0" man) then I really, really fail to see why - especially for pre-teen kids - anyone has a problem with there being "open" climbing competitions.

Obviously there is the "because we've always done it this way" argument, but just occasionally its worth rattling the established cage and seeing if anything interesting falls out.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

I whole heartedly agree with this!
Blue Straggler - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

The answer to your question is in my post. I am not going to repeat it for the benefit of someone who WILL NOT accept any viewpoint other than the one with which they initiated a thread.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I accept you have a viewpoint and understand the point you make - it just didn't convince me that you had a good reason for the segregation of kids by gender in climbing competitions. My comment stands, "what have you lost?" because the answer is bugger all.
Blue Straggler - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
>
> it just didn't convince me that you had a good reason for the segregation of kids by gender in climbing competitions.

I have a reason. I am convinced that it is a good reason. I have no interest in trying to convince you likewise, and you are entitled to remain unconvinced. I'm not that bothered. It's only the Internet.
John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Another way of putting it would be that the OP has not yet encountered any argument that is good enough to make her change her opinion.

You appear to be saying that because she has not converted to your view that she will not accept any viewpoint other than her own. This may or may not be the case, or it may be that it's just your view she don't agree with, just as you don't agree with her's.

You could equally say that you WILL NOT accept any viewpoint other than your own. We all have viewpoints, sometimes they change, sometimes they don't.

As a matter of interest, I actually think that duchessofmalfi has gone through every point made on this thread and explained why she doesn't agree with it. That's actually quite diligent by the usual standards of UKC, compared with the usual "fire and forget" approach to stating your opinion IN CAPITALS, with the word "FACT" at the end of it, and then hurling abuse at anyone who disagrees.

Not describing you here, just the average UKC "opinion".
nasher47 on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

In order to set a route that would ba hard enough to separate the oldest girls and boys it would have to be too hard for the youngest girls and boys to even get off the floor. That is why your one size fits all approach doesn't work.

You are just discriminating in the opposite direction.

The question is, what have you lost by having the categories as they are!?

This time I really am out.
Blue Straggler - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
>
>
> You appear to be saying that because she has not converted to your view that she will not accept any viewpoint other than her own.

If it appears that way, then I have not been clear enough. Sorry. The thread looks to me as if the OP is automatically disagreeing with anyone that tries to present an opposing view. You're interpreting it differently, and I think you are wrong, and you think I am wrong. I am happy to leave it there.
John_Hat - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
> [...]
>
> I am happy to leave it there.

Ditto :-) Have a good night, same place tomorrow?
Graeme Alderson on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> Otherwise most of the objections are complete bollocks
>
As is your lack of common sense.

So you are suggesting that young climbers should all compete in an Open event and then we should still rank them by gender so we can give medals to each gender. Should we also give overall medasl so whoever was 1st/2nd/3rd in the Open gets a medal for being overall 1st as well as 1st in their gender. And the same with the prizes whether they be cash or kit. Methinks it is you that is talking bollocks (on practical logistic grounds).

And isn't using the word bollocks to say something is rubbish a tad sexist?
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to nasher47:

"set routes... ...one size doesn't work."

Well I'm sure there is a way to sort this out...

Just one "for instance" by way of illustration:

Set the same number of routes as usual, rank them is the "design order of difficultly", let the individual kids find their own level and insist they attempt a few before and after their level and let this determine their "open" rank order.

After this the various rank orders according to age, gender or height could be extracted.

The older elite wouldn't have to try the easy climbs and the younger climbers wouldn't have to try the harder. On average the the same number of routes would be climbed. Boys could go round in groups of boys, girls could go round in groups of girls and mixed groups could climb together.

No need to age or gender discrimination during the competition and the option to discriminate for some of the prizes. What do you lose?

"The question is, what have you lost by having the categories as they are!?"

- equality
- fairness
- opportunity to compete on a level playing field

duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

I wasn't saying I advocated gender division in prize giving- I was just pointing out that an open competition didn't stop it from happening (and I'd accept there might be good reason for category prizes to exist).

As to the specifics, getting a prize for being the best overall climber and a prize for being the best female climber at the same time? - I can't see why that is a problem for anyone.

At this point I have to admit I had assumed that the only prize was a token medal, t-shirt and the kudos. If the cash prize double jackpot is an issue I'm sure a simple "one cash prize only" rule would solve it.

Graeme Alderson on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: You seem to lack an understanding of the logistics of running a competition such as a BRYCS/YCS Regional comp.
Jonny2vests - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
> [...]
> As is your lack of common sense.
>
> So you are suggesting that young climbers should all compete in an Open event and then we should still rank them by gender so we can give medals to each gender.

Funnily enough, that's how the Army do it. They don't do 'overall' medals though.

winhill - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi) You seem to lack an understanding of the logistics of running a competition such as a BRYCS/YCS Regional comp.

It's Dunning-Kruger in full effect.
duchessofmalfi - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

"looks to me as if the OP is automatically disagreeing with anyone "

Definitely not - I was genuinely interested in the question and have tried to take each and every comment on its merits. The arguments presented here for the status quo (and they are the majority of posts) have not convinced me there is a good reason.

It is telling that John Arran's post about how this system had arisen clearly said this was not considered at the time and if the competition was set up now that it might be different.

Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to jonny2vests: Yes I am aware of how the military comps work as I have worked as a consultant/chief judge on numerous military events over the last 15-20 years.

The reality of the military comps is that there has never been a female that came close to challenging the best males so the duchess's point isn't relevant regarding the military comps for a number of reasons.
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> It is telling that John Arran's post about how this system had arisen clearly said this was not considered at the time and if the competition was set up now that it might be different.

John said 'might' but no more. And knowing John and the BMC and the comp world I suspect he could have easliy have said 'might but highly unlikely'. #graspingatstraws :-)

Jonny2vests - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
> (In reply to jonny2vests) Yes I am aware of how the military comps work as I have worked as a consultant/chief judge on numerous military events over the last 15-20 years.

Yes, I was competing in quite a few of them Graeme :-) We've met on occasion.

> The reality of the military comps is that there has never been a female that came close to challenging the best males so the duchess's point isn't relevant regarding the military comps for a number of reasons.

Well, we did have the fit ginger Doc for a while that came second once or twice... Leanne Callaghan? It varies so much year to year though depending on how busy people are, hardly representative.
Howard J - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to Howard J)
>
> Well it is obviously discrimination because it involves discriminating between the sexes.

No, it would be discrimination if one sex was then treated less favourably than the other. Do you have evidence of this happening?

Even if it were happening, what makes you think making the children compete together is a better solution than ensuring they are treated equally?
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to jonny2vests: I don't think Leanne ever podiumed. Or did she? Maybe I am thinking more of the Inter Services comps

But as you say the military comps had wierd participation patterns. Inter Services 2000 was messed up by the fuel strike and the 2001 version was on 12th September - I remember setting up at the Foundry with Mick Cooke listening to Mark & Lard on Radio 1 and us thinking they were pushing it a bit only to realise fairly quickly that 9/11 was scarily real!
tlm - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

I do agree that it's worth questioning the status quo and asking why we segregate genders.
I think our decisions should be based on evidence, not on 'common sense' or tradition.

I tried having a look for relevant research that argued either way and found this, which seems to argue for segregation, but which isn't exactly about girls who love climbing:

"Segregated or Coeducational Physical Education Classes?
Most researchers believe that segregated physical education classes are much more beneficial than coeducationalclasses, particularly for girls and especially at the high school level.

Research by Myrick (1996) indicates that when high school students convene for physical education, the skill level of both girls and boys declines. The competitive nature of the boys subdues the girls: “the girls willavoid play while the boys control the activity” (p 6).

The research also reveals how much girls seem to prefer segregated physical education classes. The following statement from a female participant in research by Avery, Girolami and Humbert (1998, 11) emphasizes her genuine feelings of relief and enjoyment: “I’m more confident now, I don’t feel like everyone is watching me.” Clearly, girls gain a level of comfort when physical education classes are segregated. According to Myrick (1996), girls feel more comfortable, feel less pressure and reap more benefits from single-sex physicaleducation classes.

Generally speaking, as students increase in age, operating a coeducational physical education class becomes increasingly difficult. The influence of peers and the media is substantial in middle schools and high schools today. According to Myrick (1996, 7), “many other issues come into play, including sexual harassment, body image, self-esteem, major physical changes, and a more severe degree of gender bias when dealing with coeducational physical education.” As physical educators, we need to be aware of theseconcerns and deal with them accordingly.

Another reason segregation is recommended over coeducational classes is the fact that girls and boys usually like or dislike physical education for different reasons. Boys are generally interested in competing, developing skills and striving for success. Girls are generally more interested in being with friends, having fun and participating in activities in which everyone is involved. Girls also tend to enjoy playing more recreational games that require a low skill level and are easy to learn, as researched by Vertinsky (1992). Vertinsky also states, “Girls often value the fun and friendship of sport and activity more than competition and achievements” (p 376), and notes that “a decrease in girls’ activity levels is especially seen in programs emphasizing highly structured and competitive sports and physical activities as opposed to recreational or cooperative activity” (p 375). The provincial curriculum has decreased the emphasis on competition and highlystructured sports, and increased the emphasis on recreational activities."

http://www.hpec.ab.ca/gender-issues-in-physical-education-female-students-perspectives-and-experienc...
Carolyn - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

I was under the impression that it had been shown in a number of sports that, whilst there may always be some gap between the best male and best female competitors, a good chunk of the existing gap is due to segregation. In other words, move to mixed competitions, the top girls/women end up performing better than they were in single sex events. There have been a number of reasons suggested for this, perhaps most obviously that there's more reason to push yourself if you're not comfortably in the top few women - or that putting the sexes together raises the expectations of girls (they assume they can compete against the boys and win, rather than making the assumption there's no point trying).

I'll try and find some evidence to back that up in a bit!

The downside, as Graeme suggests, could be that less successful girls are put off competing at all.
tlm - on 23 Jan 2013
Carolyn - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Carolyn:

x-posted with tlm...

I'm not sure that looking at what increases mass participation in teenagers is a good indication of increases the performance of the best younger girls, though?

Neither do I know, off the top of my head, which is the aim of the BMC youth comps......
Lukem6 - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: when you say other sports that dont spliy genders at youth age... which. a large number of martial arts do.and so do sports like football and basketball a.k.a netball.

as for the why, i teach youth groups to climb and ev children they act very different towards competition most of the time boys groups will be larger and meaning that even as good climber a girl has to compete with ahogher proportion of boys. This makes the less competitve girls not want to take part and makes it harder for the girls to get closer to winning.

Youtb comps are as much about inspiring as they are about sorting winners from loser. so giving two pizes out is a good way to encourage people. the simplist way to split a group
Lukem6 - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to lm610: damn mobile phone.. the simplist way to split a group... gender.
Sir Chasm - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: What about having an open, with one set of rankings and a separate women's competition? Then women could choose.
john arran - on 23 Jan 2013
There's a huge difference between having competitions routinely gender-combined and holding a particular mixed-gender competition.

For all sorts of reasons given above I think it would be wrong to try to remove all gender-separation in kids' competition. However, I do think that having some event or events where girls are able to compare their achievements against the boys is a good thing. This could potentially be via a one-off open competition but just as easily could be by running all or part of a comp on the same routes, set specifically with both sexes in mind.

Logistically I think this may not easily be justified in most cases but it has always happened to a degree with some shared BRYCS/BYCS shared routes and I agree it would be interesting occasionally to have a whole comp where the overall results can be directly compared.
Roberttaylor - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

What if a transgender person wants to compete? For example, I have a male body but identify as a female lesbian. My girlfriend and I should be allowed to compete against one another in the female category.

R
Kemics - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor:

....that's a pretty massive can of worms you're opening there.

However, it does happen with split groups -http://www.suntimes.com/sports/colleges/17011957-419/transgender-player-attains-college-basketball-f...

A 50 year old, 6ft 6 transgender man playing women's college basketball.

Does it provide equality? - yes.
Does it provide fairness? - not to every other girl in the league who just got dunked by an 15 stone army veteran.
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor:

While this is probably asked in a silly, argumentative way there is a simple answer:

Regardless of your gender, gender orientation or identity you can compete together in an open competition.

Whether or not you can both appear if the female rankings is a very complex and controversial if you are genuinely interested start here: Gender_verification_in_sports / wikipedia.
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Sir Chasm:
"Separate girls and open comps?"

Apart from the implicit assumption that the boys will always out compete girls [and the risk of creating an open 1st division and girls only 2nd division] it might be a fairer alternative to the status quo.

I would suggest boys, girls and an open is fairer and for practical reasons it would make sense to reduce this to an open competition with category rankings for those that care.

Alternatively: two comps named "boys" and "girls" that are open to either sex - I can see nothing in the current BMC rules that prevents a girl from entering the boys competition.
winhill - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to john arran:

> However, I do think that having some event or events where girls are able to compare their achievements against the boys is a good thing. This could potentially be via a one-off open competition but just as easily could be by running all or part of a comp on the same routes, set specifically with both sexes in mind.

I fear you're being led by the troll here John, but just in case you do think it's serious, what about the BMC run Leading Ladder? Far more opportunities for girls to compare themselves to boys on the same routes.

Many walls run winter bouldering leagues, usually over more rounds than the YCS (3, max 4). Again, the girls compete on the same problems as the boys and a keen girl could take up dozens of opportunites to compete against boys.

What possible value do you see in the BMC (or anyone else) spending time and money organising a specific girls v boys day?
tlm - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to lm610:
> basketball a.k.a netball.

these are two different games, not the same one....
davo - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to john arran:
> I do think that having some event or events where girls are able to compare their achievements against the boys is a good thing. This could potentially be via a one-off open competition but just as easily could be by running all or part of a comp on the same routes, set specifically with both sexes in mind.
>
> Logistically I think this may not easily be justified in most cases but it has always happened to a degree with some shared BRYCS/BYCS shared routes and I agree it would be interesting occasionally to have a whole comp where the overall results can be directly compared.

Seems like a sensible suggestion to me.

Having read the thread I can't honestly see a strong argument against having some form of open competition. In all honesty most girls would probably still compete against other girls (I guess!?) as in all honesty from what I have seen there is a gap in ability. However there are some girls out there who would probably want to try and compete in some form of open category.

For example I watched a youth leading comp at Awesome walls in Liverpool recently and after the event had finished one of the girls (I forget her name) tried the oldest boys/youth finals route and flashed it. So I guess it would have been good if she could have competed in an open category.


winhill - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to Roberttaylor)
>
> While this is probably asked in a silly, argumentative way there is a simple answer:

oh noes, my irony meter.


john arran - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to winhill:

> I fear you're being led by the troll here John, but just in case you do think it's serious, what about the BMC run Leading Ladder? Far more opportunities for girls to compare themselves to boys on the same routes.

Troll or not it's still a discussion worth having. And good point about the leading ladder - I'm a bit out of touch with UK competitions so I'd forgotten about that, although it perhaps isn't quite as good a yardstick as a more conventional comp format would be. My point was not that we should try to stage any new gender-combined event but that being able to compare gender performances in real competitions is interesting and in some cases probably beneficial to the best performers of both sexes. Facilitating that when logistics allows seems like it could provide a worthy added bonus.
Oceanrower - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
>
> For example, I have a male body but identify as a female lesbian.
>
> R

Hmm. Can you get a male lesbian?
John_Hat - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to john arran:
> (In reply to winhill)
>
> [...]
>
> My point was not that we should try to stage any new gender-combined event but that being able to compare gender performances in real competitions is interesting and in some cases probably beneficial to the best performers of both sexes. Facilitating that when logistics allows seems like it could provide a worthy added bonus.

Well put and agree.

FWIW I think there is an implicit assumption that the female competition exists because girls can never compete directly against boys, or will always be destined to lose if they did.

Hence, for the top girls, they are allowed to be top of the second division, but no higher than that.

I think that climbing, as a sport, does give an opportunity of *easily* allowing both girls and boys to compete on the same problems, and if it's easy to do I think it would be beneficial to allow it to occur. Then we don't have 50% of the population automatically assumed to be second best.
winhill - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to john arran:
> (In reply to winhill)
>
> Troll or not it's still a discussion worth having. And good point about the leading ladder - I'm a bit out of touch with UK competitions so I'd forgotten about that, although it perhaps isn't quite as good a yardstick as a more conventional comp format would be. My point was not that we should try to stage any new gender-combined event but that being able to compare gender performances in real competitions is interesting and in some cases probably beneficial to the best performers of both sexes. Facilitating that when logistics allows seems like it could provide a worthy added bonus.

Mmm, I'm not sure what 'real competitions' are if it's not a new combined event?

Thanks to being led by the troll, I'm still not sure what age group anyone is talking, and it makes an enormous difference. To compete in youth E+D kids can come up very quickly and anonomously, within a year or two. To compete (and win) in youth B+A kids will be doing 200 days training a year, and have access to a professional coach.

It is almost inconceivable, Disney style, that a girl could beat the B+A boys without coming to the attention of the BMC Squirearchy (where did she train? who taught her?).

If such a wunderkind existed she'd need access to the best coaches, sports scientists, psychologists (and there are very good female coaches out there who do all this currently). The sort of stuff modern sportsmen and women do.

Saying chuck her in a mixed competition it will be interesting seems retrograde, unevidenced, of dubious value, I would hope she could have much higher expectations of the BMC.
tlm - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to lm610:
> (In reply to lm610) damn mobile phone.. the simplist way to split a group... gender.


Why is it the simplest? Why not just number everyone 1 and 2?

or choose by height?

or any other method?
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

I'd agree that an open comparison should be made but I'd go further - I cannot see a good reason for separating the sexes during a climbing competition. While some girls (boys) might not want to compete directly against boys (girls) the opposite is also true. As an illustration: most kids I've met would be (or were) appalled at having to go to a single sex school.

john arran - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to winhill:
> Mmm, I'm not sure what 'real competitions' are if it's not a new combined event?
In the context of my post I used that term to describe any organised climbing comp, in contrast to the obvious method of comparing people by informal performance on already set routes either indoors or out. No new event required, as you'll gather from the rest of my post.

> Thanks to being led by the troll...
I suspect I'm being led by one right now but hey ho.

> Saying chuck her in a mixed competition it will be interesting seems retrograde, unevidenced, of dubious value, I would hope she could have much higher expectations of the BMC.

Again as from my previous post I think the information could be of value to the competitors themselves as well as to any coaches involved. I don't see why, if it's done well, this comparative knowledge should cause problems. I also didn't say anything about chucking people into mixed comps - simply about being able to compare performances in competition environments.

Further apparently-deliberate attempts to misrepresent what I've said are likely to be ignored.
John_Hat - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
>
> I'd agree that an open comparison should be made but I'd go further - I cannot see a good reason for separating the sexes during a climbing competition.

Thought that was what I said?
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

Sorry - I misunderstood - I thought you were agreeing with John Arran who (forgive me if I get this wrong John) said, "We should compare results but not compete coed".

Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: If the YCS Regional events were coed I wonder what the gender split at the Finals would be? My guess is nothing like the 50/50 split it is now

Likewise if the BLCC and BBC were coed what would the gender split be in the finals. Again my guess is not 50/50.

Long term effect of this reduced representation? Possibly reduced participation by the under represented gender?
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Just because you run a coed comp does not mean you can't find separate male and female rankings. It would still be possible to have a 50:50 split in the finals by allowing the top X boys and the top X girls through (or separate boys and girls comps at the next stage).

metal arms on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to Graeme Alderson)
>
> Just because you run a coed comp does not mean you can't find separate male and female rankings. It would still be possible to have a 50:50 split in the finals by allowing the top X boys and the top X girls through (or separate boys and girls comps at the next stage).

At least if you do this your simpler, fairer competition solution has exactly the same end result but is more complicated to organise and judge.
winhill - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to john arran:
> (In reply to winhill)
>
> Further apparently-deliberate attempts to misrepresent what I've said are likely to be ignored.

Thanks for that john arran, I think from John Hat's agreement with you and where that took him that it wasn't clear what you meant.

I'm still not clear if the girls and boys are competing against each other or not at your event.

If all you want to do express a few feelings, feel free, in terms of when events occur when the youth are on the same routes/problems I've already identified dozens of occasions when it happens, what new stuff you're suggesting is meh.
John_Hat - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
>
> Sorry - I misunderstood - I thought you were agreeing with John Arran who (forgive me if I get this wrong John) said, "We should compare results but not compete coed".

Kind of a bit of a thin point, really, to me. If we are comparing results then we are judging the individuals in relation to each others, in which case it might as well be an open competition.

Personally, I think stick both genders in the same pot, age ranges as now, and then award a Boys prize, Girls prize, and Open prize.
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

I fully agree with this - one coed competition - rankings for the open, girls and boys.
Oceanrower - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: Well, that confused me. Now boy 'c' is a girl (and a boy, there's gender equality for you!) and 'z' appears to have disappeared.

Plus, all the girls are now better that boy (or girl) 'c'

tom_in_edinburgh - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

What I haven't seen in the entire thread is any evidence that 8-10 year old girls in these competitions actually want to compete in the same category as the boys. My daughter was 9 when she did her first comp and the whole thing was a bit intimidating despite the friendly atmosphere, especially the segregation before the final - it was a good thing she'd made friends with the other girls and had someone to chat to.

The comp used the same route for boys and girls and if there had been just one category 3 out of 4 finalists would have been boys (because 3 of the 5 boys managed a powerful and risky move and the top of the second qualifying route that stopped all the girls). The girl who won would have come second overall.

The sport is doing a great job of getting 8-10 year old girls interested and they are having a good time at the competitions. Changing things about to make a political point is probably not a good idea.


duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to metal arms:
In reply to Oceanrower: (hopefully fixed-sorry)

It isn't <exactly> the same - the result (in terms of ranking and placement) might be the same but the competition is different and it is fairer.

As an example:

Let us say the final consist of boys a,b,c and girls x,y,z.

Case 1: If we assume that all the boys are always better than all the girls then the results are the same (neglecting that performance may be altered by the move from segregated to coed) because a, b, c will always rank high than x, y, z. eg

open ranking: b a c y x z
girls ranking y x z
boys ranking b a c

Case 2: If we permit one of the girls to be better than the boys and one boy to be worse than the girls then the results are different:

eg
open rankings y b a x z c.
girls ranking y x z
boys ranking b a c

At the moment neither are possible and, as John Hat says the best girls / women can do is the top of the second division. Which for case 2 this seems a little unfair.

John Arran's suggestion (above) is to compare results from the segregated competitions to achieve the same thing. It implies all the organisation hassles of a fully coed competition (same routes, same poeple). The downside for me is that there is still segregation and the sexes don't compete together - the point of this I don't get.

I'll freely admit that the likelihood that an instant change at the top rankings is small but since it makes no difference to the result in this situation what is the harm? If a girl does make it into the same performance arena as the boys isn't it somewhat unfair as it stands?
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

"actually want to compete in the same category as the boys"

I know girls that would far rather compete is a mixed group than an all girls group. The competition being coed doesn't mean that a group of girls can't compete together if they want to, it just means they don't have to.
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tlm - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

This is interesting:

http://www.icsspe.org/sites/default/files/Girls.pdf

"Studies suggest that a key factor in whether girls engage in and sustain physical activities was whether they had a same-sex friend with whom to participate"
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to tlm:

Interesting - I'll read it in more detail later. However, it applies to groups on average and not individuals.

If your sporting friend is the opposite sex then segregated competitions will put you off. If they are the same sex then you can continue to compete with them under an open competition.
John_Hat - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> The comp used the same route for boys and girls and if there had been just one category 3 out of 4 finalists would have been boys (because 3 of the 5 boys managed a powerful and risky move and the top of the second qualifying route that stopped all the girls).

Which rather proves my point made further up the thread that comp routes are often set in a way that *ensures* girls cannot compete on the same playing field as boys...

i.e. the routes are set to play to the strengths of a male. Specifically power and (in this case) risk. hence the playing field is not level, and then girls are told they cannot compete against men because they are not as good, on a playing field that is designed so that men will score well and girls badly. Quite ironic really.

It's interesting that in a country where we've got naff all heavily overhanging rock (as a percentage of the total) comp routes almost always require very powerful moves, as opposed to the delicate balancy stuff I see outside every weekend.
winhill - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
>
> This is interesting:
>
> http://www.icsspe.org/sites/default/files/Girls.pdf
>
> "Studies suggest that a key factor in whether girls engage in and sustain physical activities was whether they had a same-sex friend with whom to participate"

There's a ton of this stuff out there, it's already been covered by the windsurfing post.

The problem is - Is it relevant? ie although girls may prefer it, does it produce better outcomes? and of course, what age does it relate to, are younger girls less influenced by gender peers than older girls?
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

"to make a political point"

Not changing the system by sitting on your hands or actively promoting the status quo is equally as "political".

I'll return to my original question and restate that I haven't been convinced that there is a good reason yet for segregated competitions.
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: So the top 6 in the coed ranking go through to the final, they are all the same gender. In the YCS Final only the top 3 are allowed to compete for the gender & coed titles whilst the other 3 can compete for the coed titles.

Plus we have the other 3 from the other gender ranking. So we have 9 from each category in the final so the YCS Final has grown by potentially 50%, so that's now potentially 315 climbers plus a billion parents. Thats going to work logistically. Or maybe not.

Plus what happens when the 3 who are only allowed to compete in the coed score significantly better than the 3 who are doing both coed and single gender yet they can only win the coed titles. Thats going to go down well isn't it.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)

> I know girls that would far rather compete is a mixed group than an all girls group.

Do you know girls who would prefer to be the only girl in a group of boys? Because that's what could happen fairly regularly in the final stages of a fully open competition with a single qualifying group for the final.

The competition in the age group my daughter was in was pretty much coed in organisation: the boys and girls did the same route and the order in the final was random (i.e. it wasn't all the boys then all the girls). However there were separate qualifying groups so 4 girls got into the girls final and 4 boys got into the boys final and the results were presented as separate competitions.

All the information would be there to have a prize for best overall climber but there are already a lot of categories and only so much time to get through the competition schedule and hand out the awards by the end of the day. I'm not sure you'd get much enthusiasm from the organisers or waiting parents for having an extra 'overall' award in each category.



duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

This is a minor problem that can be easily solved - we'll start by assuming there are X places for girls and X places for boys at present.

Allow the top X boys and the top Y girls from the earlier rounds to compete. The numbers are the same as before, the girls and boys results are the same.

It is possible that the rankings below the worst performing boy (assuming boys are always "better") might be inaccurate (ie the 6th ranked boy who didn't make the cut could have come 6th above the girl who came 6th.

To fix this problem the first X are ranked in the open and places below Xth are not ranked. (you also get a ranking 1-X for boys and 1-X for girls).


Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> i.e. the routes are set to play to the strengths of a male. Specifically power and (in this case) risk. hence the playing field is not level, and then girls are told they cannot compete against men because they are not as good, on a playing field that is designed so that men will score well and girls badly. Quite ironic really.

No matter how you set routes you are always playing to someone's strengths. Years ago I was setting for a BICC Final at Bear Rock and we had the dilema of if we put a dyno in the route we knew we were disadvantaging those women who couldn't dyno, whereas if we didn't put the dyno in were actively favouring those who couldn't dyno. And this could have had an affect on who won the title.

> It's interesting that in a country where we've got naff all heavily overhanging rock (as a percentage of the total) comp routes almost always require very powerful moves, as opposed to the delicate balancy stuff I see outside every weekend.

If you accept that part of the idea of British national events is to prepare climbers for international events then unless we can comvince everyone else that we should start have international events on vertical or slabby walls then we need to stick with steep walls for our national events, particularly for Youth C upwards.

And part of the role of competitions is to be a spectacle, an entertainment. Watching half of the field spening 5 minutes humming and harring over a delicate move half way up a route does not fulfil this role very well.

And incidentally most Boulder World Cups have a slab in them these days, so 1 in 5 problems in the quals and 1 in 4 for the semis and finals do have delicate styles of climbing. And the men's slabs are far harder than the women's slabs.
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

"Do you know girls who would prefer to be the only girl in a group of boys?"

- Yes but also "happy to be" or "relaxed about" as well as "prefer"

But, as mentioned above in the specific examples I gave, in the later rounds a cut of the top boys and girls go through at each stage to preserve the gender balance and individual girls and boys competitions. As a consequence (provided there were enough girls to begin with) this wouldn't happen.

I realise at this point I'm often unpicking objections to a specific proposal (which is different from asking my original question). Since I didn't set out to be offering a specific alternative I can't claim it is perfect and I am making up as I go along.

duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Obviously there is no entirely fair way to set the routes which will always end up favouring someone's strengths.

What about having an equal gender ratio amongst the route setters? I bet they are (nearly) all blokes at present.
John_Hat - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Interesting points all.

As a matter of interest, and not in any way detracting from the several excellent points made in your post (which I'm thinking about!), whilst I'm thinking could you let me know - did the women get a chance to have a go at the (harder) men's slab, or were they presumed not to be able to attempt it?
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
>
> What about having an equal gender ratio amongst the route setters? I bet they are (nearly) all blokes at present.

For some reason there seems to be a total lack of interest from women in getting into being a route setter. I know of only 1 woman who has done the BMC National (Comp) Setting Course and she didn't follow it up or work as a setter at walls.

There would definately be a market for female route setters but they don't seem to exist or at least don't make potential employers aware of their existance.

Ang at Gravity in Dublin and Suuz at Climb Newcastle are the 2 exceptions that I know.

duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Well actively recruiting so that a good proportion of comp routes were set by women would certainly help address that problem.
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat: No, the problems at World Cups are temporary by their very nature. Once the quals are finished they are stripped straight away so the semi can be put up. Same with the semis before the finals. The finals may be left on the wall but most of the walls are temporary and are dismantled virtually immediately - in 2013 there are 8 BWC's and 7 of them are on temp structures. For the 1 permanent wall (Log Dragomer) I would assume that the Slovenians will go back to try the final problems a day or 2 after the comp has finished but the rest of the competitors are usually on a plane the next day, either going home or en route to the next event.

I have only seen a female tester at 2 BWCs out of the 30+ that I have attended and never seen a female setter.
John_Hat - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Interesting.... (still thinking...)
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

It isn't a problem but an opportunity that needs active BMC support.
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: Actively recruit who. They aren't out there.

A comp route setter needs to be an experienced setter who can work fast as you have limited time. Ang is the only one that I know who is fast and experienced but she would struggle to manhandle the rather large volumes that get routinely used in bouldering comps. Maybe the BMC might consider using her at a YCS final.
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: Route setting is a job. There are no jobbing female route setters out there that I know of in the UK. Therefore, as far as I know, there are no suitably experienced female route setters out there. If there was I would assume that I would have heard of them as I have worked in climbing walls and comps for over 20 years now and have been a potential employer for the last 13.

I have just remembered, another woman did do a BMC Route Setting course, one aimed at setting for BRYCS as the YCS was then called. However she didn't take it anything further and didn't, as far as I know, do any setting afterwards.

When did I say Ang is feeble, she is anything but - I am her business partner in Gravity so am fully aware of what she is capable of, and that is a lot, she is a tough cookie. However she is rather small. Part of the job of being a comp boulder setter is working to a very demanding timetable, having to get another member of the team to help endangers that timetable
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

It is pretty simple, the BMC sets a target for female route setters and sets about recruiting them and training them.

It simply isn't a good answer to the problem to say (in the same breath) "they are no women and they're not strong enough or fast enough anyway".

The shortage of female route route setters is a call to action to recruit and train more not an invitation to do nothing.

It might take a while to achieve a sensible number but doing nothing gets nowhere.


winhill - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
>
> It is pretty simple, the BMC sets a target for female route setters and sets about recruiting them and training them.

How many hours of work, per year, do you think the BMC would be able to offer a female route setter who was setting youth competitions?
Oceanrower - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
>
> It is pretty simple, the BMC sets a target for female route setters and sets about recruiting them and training them.
>
> It simply isn't a good answer to the problem to say (in the same breath) "they are no women and they're not strong enough or fast enough anyway".
>
> The shortage of female route route setters is a call to action to recruit and train more not an invitation to do nothing.
>
> It might take a while to achieve a sensible number but doing nothing gets nowhere.

Why? If there are women who want to route set then they will. If there aren't then they won't.

P.s. I personally know of two women who set routes professionally. There aren't many people, men or women, who would claim to earn a living purely route setting. Most have other income inside or outside of climbing.
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to winhill:

"How many hours of work, per year,?"

About the same as the men who set the routes.

In reply to Oceanrower:

Who said anything about them earning their living from setting comp routes?

Sounds like something other than the weight of the holds is discouraging women from setting routes. I wonder what it can be...
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> Sounds like something other than the weight of the holds is discouraging women from setting routes. I wonder what it can be...

The lack of interest shown by women to enter the world of professional route setting would be my guess.

And it is not the role of the BMC to recruit route setters and train them from stratch. It is the BMC's role to take experienced route setters and train/accredit then to work on BMC comps

duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

"it is not the role of the BMC to recruit rou"...

In this context I would say it is exactly the role of the BMC to do this:

www.thebmc.co.uk/Download.aspx?id=132
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

The link works for me - try this alternative:

http://tinyurl.com/aqwlf9q
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: Got it, just had to save an re-name as a .doc

It's the BMC Equity Policy which makes not mention of the BMC's role in managing competitions to start training route setters from scratch.


duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Maybe you missed a few bits:

We support the development and implementation of practices that do not discriminate, either directly or indirectly. It is our Policy to treat everyone equally, fairly and consistently. ...and take appropriate steps...

The BMC aims to ensure that all people irrespective of their age, gender... ...as a beginner, participant or performer, as a coach, official, referee, manager, administrator, spectator or as a volunteer.

We will take positive action to support participation of under represented groups...

...to ensure that the format and content of all competitions, regulations and assessments provide equality for all.


Now it does specifically say "route setters" but I think it is fair to say this is covered.
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: Sorry but that does not mean it's role is to train from scratch. It means that suitably experienced and qualified route setters should not be discriminated against in terms of gender etc.

It also means that the BMC is perfectly entitled to employmale only male route setters if the job requires them to set both male and female routes/problems and there are no female setters capable of doing the complete job. There is not enough money in the BMC's budget to employ 2 seperate teams and the practicality of setting for comps often means that there isn't enough wall space or equipment (eg cherry pickers) for 2 teams to operate simulataneously.

> ...to ensure that the format and content of all competitions, regulations and assessments provide equality for all.

You seem to have missed reading the Exemptions.
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

"We will take positive action to support participation of under represented groups..."

Aye it doesn't say train from scratch but it clearly states the BMC's role in support the development of an under represented group.

I didn't miss the exemptions but you'll note that they are only to ensure equitable, safe and equal competition all of which are discussed above and none of which exclude this specific discussion (gender balance amongst route setters).
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davo - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
>
> It is pretty simple, the BMC sets a target for female route setters and sets about recruiting them and training them.
>
> The shortage of female route route setters is a call to action to recruit and train more not an invitation to do nothing.
>
> It might take a while to achieve a sensible number but doing nothing gets nowhere.


Sorry, I might agree with the principle of open competitions but I don't agree with any of the above.

This is climbing not politics or board room representation of women. We don't need affirmative action (or whatever the phrase is I am searching for!). If women want to route set they can. In fact anyone can!

All you have to do is chat to your local wall and offer your services. You will probably eventually get a chance to set a route or two and if people like your routes the wall may offer you some cash for it. Eventually if you keep doing it enough you may start doing it for a few walls. Then you may start setting for a small local comp (which can't afford a big name setter). Then you may get noticed and eventually start setting for bigger comps and finally the BMC may decide to help you get accreditation.

At no stage in this process is there a gender bar. It doesn't matter if you are a man or woman, it simply takes a desire to do it. I am a guy and I personally have no desire to set routes, it would bore me senseless. I am sure you are right that most route setters are men but then most climbers are.

I also really don't see that it makes a difference who sets the routes. Men and women can set equally difficult climbs at all angles.

Dave
winhill - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to winhill)
>
> "How many hours of work, per year,?"
>
> About the same as the men who set the routes.

If you don't know why don't you hazard a guess?
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

I was going to write a long post about why demanding affirmative action from the BMC about routesetters was: contradictory to your stance that women should be able to compete equally with men; patronising to women who are perfectly capable of routesetting if they wish, and derogatory to male routesetters, since it implies they are incapable of setting routes that favour women (despite being capable of setting routes that favor/disfavour short/weak/flexible/strong men of all shapes and sizes.

But I couldn't be bothered.
duchessofmalfi - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to davo:

If there is no gender bar what explains the huge difference in gender representation?

IIRC the way we got on to this topic was the suggestion that route setting might favour boys over girls and one reason might be that the overwhelming majority of route setters were men. I'm not sure of the truth in either of these arguments. However, in a sport where participation generally is not that far off equal, why is problem setting so dominated by men?

It occurs to me that with very little effort on the part of the BMC and competition organisers the number of female route setters could be increased significantly. Whether or not this would solve any perceived problem in route setting I don't know but it would lift the finger of suspicion from the gender balance in route setting.

TBH this is beginning to remind me more and more of the position of (female) match officials in football (with the exception that participation rates at the grass roots are less equal in football so the shear in participation rates is more acute in climbing for route setters).
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to davo)
>
> TBH this is beginning to remind me more and more of the position of (female) match officials in football (with the exception that participation rates at the grass roots are less equal in football so the shear in participation rates is more acute in climbing for route setters).

In what way? It's not like there's much evidence that female route setters are actively discouraged, as has been the case in football. My guess is the lack of female routesetters reflects a shortage of obsessive climbing females. All the routesetters are know are "lifers" who eat, drink, breath climbing.

Participation might be quite equal, but whilst I know about a hundred similar obsessed male climbers, I only know a handful of females who are similarly climbing-obsessed.

To address your original question; why isn't simple logistics reason enough to run gender divided comps? The kind of open comp you're advocating sounds like a good idea to me, and I'm sure there would be some interest in it. It does, however, require all the climbers to climb on the same route. Graeme would know for sure, but it seems unlikely there'd be time for this at a typical youth comp...

davo - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to davo)
>
> If there is no gender bar what explains the huge difference in gender representation?
>

As I said more men climb than women therefore there is likely to a higher number of male routesetters.

> IIRC the way we got on to this topic was the suggestion that route setting might favour boys over girls and one reason might be that the overwhelming majority of route setters were men. I'm not sure of the truth in either of these arguments. However, in a sport where participation generally is not that far off equal, why is problem setting so dominated by men?
>

I don't think that participation is anywhere near equal in climbing. Certainly not where I climb, possibly it different where you are based?

> It occurs to me that with very little effort on the part of the BMC and competition organisers the number of female route setters could be increased significantly. Whether or not this would solve any perceived problem in route setting I don't know but it would lift the finger of suspicion from the gender balance in route setting.
>

As I said before I don't see this as the BMC's job. We don't need affirmative action. If women want to route set they can. I personally don't care who sets routes, I just like to climb good ones indoors.

In all honesty I think your point about open climbing comps is a fair one. I think that there could be a method of occasionally organising an open event. Yes there are logistical issues but there always are. I think it could actually be quite a cool event to watch and could be quite humbling for many guys.





davo - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to midgets of the world unite:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
> [...]
> Participation might be quite equal, but whilst I know about a hundred similar obsessed male climbers, I only know a handful of females who are similarly climbing-obsessed.
>

Not sure I even know a handful!

In reply to davo:

I have small hands
Howard J - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
We seem to have established that the very format of climbing competitions is biased, based as they are (for what appear to be good reasons) on steeply overhanging walls which tend to favour male climbers. Hence the argument about female route-setters who (the duchess presumably hopes) will create more female-friendly routes. However this surely leads to the conclusion that the fairest approach, which doesn't give either sex an advantage over the other, is to have segregated competitions - which is where we came in.
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to midgets of the world unite: And small most things, hence your name. Except your brain of course :-)
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi: So as a competition organiser you think that I should put a Premier Post on UKC saying "Fancy being a route setter. Let me spend my company's money training you up and then use you at an event that costs over £50,000 even though you haven't previously shown any interest in setting and you really haven't served your apprenticeship and therefore the event could be seriously compromised (after all if the route setters f*ck up the comp is a f*ck up) just so that I can satisfy someone's percieved gender imbalance in an area that your gender hasn't shown very much interest in. Females only can apply despite it being illegal to state this"

Or should I stick with what I do now ie "If you want to work at an international bouldering comp in the UK then you must prove your worth first by getting off your arse, learning your trade (as Davo says above) and then if you cut the mustard I will give you a job. I don't a damn you are a lad or a lass but I do care if you can do the job"

[Edited due to typos]
DomClarke on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
>if I were a top girl climber I'd be pretty pissed off that the BMC chose >to prevent me from competing at the top level. If I were a boy (same >performance assumptions) I wouldn't wouldn't be worried.
>
> Easy: girl A came 3rd in the open, girl B came 18th etc
>
> A ranked 1st out of the girls
> B ranked 2nd out of the girls etc
> C ranked 3rd...
>
> Give them medals based on this now what have you lost?

You are saying that the sexes should not be separate at a young age as they should be able to compete on an even level due to physical development being similar, yet in both the above posts you suggest that boys are better than girls at climbing and there is therefore actually a difference between the sexes.

If as you suggest they should be in mixed competition due to their age meaning the playing field is level why would you be happy as a boy to be allowed to compete against the best but pissed off a girl that you couldn't due to being in a separate competition to the boys.

Also if you feel they should compete in mixed competition on an equal level, why would you want to send a mixed message by saying "don't worry although you were fifth overall you were best of your sex"?

I'm not sure whether they should be separate or mixed as don't know enough about child development and elite performance comparisons between sexes in youth, but you seem to be a bit mixed in opinions on the subject under your strong proposal of the comps being completely mixed...
Chris the Tall - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to davo)
>
> If there is no gender bar what explains the huge difference in gender representation?
>

Is there a huge difference ? In absolute number yes, but not in comparison with other sports, and particularly not other adventure sports. Compare the numbers involved in mountain biking, both in comps and at a recreational level. Is that the fault of the route setters ?

Actually if you compare the gender balance at indoor walls compared to outdoor crags, then perhaps route setters are already positively discriminating to make walls more female friendly. And discriminating against tall people.
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Chris the Tall: You aren't actually that tall though Chris, maybe you should change your name to Chris the Slightly Weak :-)

Ps spent Boxing Day at Brenton Park watching 11 man TRFC beat Crewe, first time that I have been there since 12 man TRFC beat SAFC :-)
Denni on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Graeme Alderson)
> [...]
>
> Yes, I was competing in quite a few of them Graeme :-) We've met on occasion.
>
> [...]
>
> Well, we did have the fit ginger Doc for a while that came second once or twice... Leanne Callaghan? It varies so much year to year though depending on how busy people are, hardly representative.


Every time I went there was always a mixed bag of people with the usual faces managing to show up and win, the likes of Mark Stephenson et al.

I enjoyed the Army comps, my last one was helping organising the one at the Beacon/Capel with Mike Smith, happy days. Have probably bumped into you all at some point over the last 15 odd years!
Kettledrum on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to winhill:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
> Boys and Girls don't climb the same routes up to (including?) group C, even youth E girls and boys can have differnt routes (this is certainly the case at the YCS finals 60 kids on the same routes!?!).
>
> Whether the regions do may depend on the amount of time that the individual wall has to set routes and how they manage the running time for the event.
>
> In my experience the top boys will beat the top girls, I can think of 1 girl I know who could bash it out with the best boys but it's rare. With the emphasis on fun and participation, I think there would need to be really good evidence that girls overall would benefit from being ranked along side the boys and then it would probably just be a few of the best girls not the girl's as a whole.
>
>In reply to duchessofmalfi:
For regional BMC YCS competitions, the BMC suggests the route setting matrix below to reduce the amount of route setting required after the change from 3 age categories to 5 age categories in 2012. For any region that follows this, boys and girls up to Youth C can easily be directly compared. Look at last year's results and you will see that in many regions the girls compare very favourably with the boys. Any girl or boy who is interested can tell exactly where they would stand had the competition been open. At regional comps I have been to, the girls and boys who know each other and are serious climbers swap beta and watch each others' climbing.

Boulder 1 V1 B+G Youth E 1
Boulder 2 V2 B+G Youth D 1
Boulder 3 V2 B+G Youth C 1 B+G Youth E 2
Boulder 4 V3 B+G Youth B 1 B+G Youth D 2
Boulder 5 V4 B+G Youth C 2 B+G Youth E 3 B+G Youth A 1
Boulder 6 V5 B+G Youth B 2 B+G Youth D 3
Boulder 7 V5 B+G Youth C 3 B+G Youth A 2
Boulder 8 V6 B+G Youth B 3 (possibly easier version for girls) G Youth A 3
Boulder 9 V7/8 B Youth A 3

Route 1 5 B+G Youth E 1
Route 2 5+ B+G Youth D 1
Route 3 6a B+G Youth C 1 B+G Youth E 2
Route 4 6a B+G Youth B 1 B+G Youth D 2
Route 5 6b B+G Youth C 2 B+G Youth E 3 B+G Youth A 1
Route 6 6c B+G Youth D 2 B+G Youth B 2
Route 7 7a B+G Youth C 3 B+G Youth A 2
Route 8 7b G Youth B 3 G Youth A 3
Route 9 7b+ B Youth B 3 B Youth A 3
Graeme Alderson on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Denni: Still see Maj. M Smith (Retired) as he has now left and has more time to climb so he gets down the Works a fair bit. Ft Lt. M Cooke (also Reitred) is still a regular judge at international boulder comps and is now a pimp for Entre-Prises Climbing Walls. The military comps were always great to work at as you guys always respected authority even when said authority was a scruffy git with dreadlocks

The problem with you military types is that they kept sending you off to those far flung wars, played bugger with your climbing I believe :-)
Chris the Tall - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
> (In reply to Chris the Tall) You aren't actually that tall though Chris, maybe you should change your name to Chris the Slightly Weak :-)
>
Slightly ? I'll take that as a compliment
Denni on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Good old Mark, a good un. Can't remember the chaps name who set the routes at the Beacon for us, but he used to sleep in his van!

Did you work with Ollie and Rob at Boulders at all?
Lukem6 - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to davo)
>
> If there is no gender bar what explains the huge difference in gender representation?


Well simple, Its only 2013.

If you go back to 1940-ish, climbing in the UK was mostly perfomered and pioneered by BOYS/MEN. Hence at the time the Gender representing the sport was 85-95% male.

Some time after that attitudes towards women changed, a climbing female is no longer an enigma and stopped being such a little while ago.

It is only in the past decade that women have started to "show interest". Remember that line its quite important. There was recently a comp at a local climbing wall and the number of entries into the female category was 3. so everyone won something. Whoever 20 men entered making competition a lot tougher.

If you want to increase the representation of women within climbing start by changing the attitudes of women. So many women don't grow up seeing climbing as a girls activity, if you mixed the 6 girls in a youth group with 14 boys, you instantly lower the chance of them winning and feeling like climbing is something they can achieve at.

In my opinion mixed comps would be bad unless you had equal representation of both sexes and also an increase of females approaching climbing as an obsessed athlete. Some of the best Age 4 - 7 climbers I've had the pleasure of working with have been girls, and they have made it up 6a(British tec) routes in ways I never even thought possible.

They taught me that too short, too week, too female are just excuses.

If you want representation by women promote women climbing, you want competitive girls let them compete with each other.
winhill - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Kettledrum:
> (In reply to winhill)
> [...]
> >In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> At regional comps I have been to, the girls and boys who know each other and are serious climbers swap beta and watch each others' climbing.

At regional comps I've been to the boys and girls in the same age bracket have been unable to swap beta because they have been on different routes.

Like I said before it may depend on how an individual wall manages contention to avoid congestion or they may have a particularly small bouldering area etc.
winhill - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to DomClarke:
> (In reply to duchessofmalfi)
>
> I'm not sure whether they should be separate or mixed as don't know enough about child development and elite performance comparisons between sexes in youth, but you seem to be a bit mixed in opinions on the subject under your strong proposal of the comps being completely mixed...

It's not just about child development and elite performance comparisions, it's more about the competition pathways.

We still don't know what ages the duchess thinks she's talking about but from age 13 the girls in the BMC YCS (the main BMC youth comp, 3 days + 1 day final for qualifiers) don't even compete against the top level girls, let alone the top level boys.

The best boys and girls aged 13+ would be those who are in Team GB and they are not allowed to compete in the YCS, as they are supported to compete in Euro Comps (and they're simply too good). The only BMC youth event the Team GB climbers can enter are the Open Youth events. That's 2 days, twice a year, 2 days routes and 2 days bouldering. The leading comp is just 2 routes, one attempt at each plus the a single route final, again one attempt.

Some people travel the length of England up to Ratho to do 2 climbs, but with the chance of a Team GB place.

So the YCS is the third level, Open Youth second and Team GB top.

It's really only the Open that offers an opportunity for the best girls and boys to climb the same routes, 4 or possibly 6 routes depending how you do. As this is to select members of gendered teams running it as 'coed' doesn't begin to make sense.

The question would be what is the impact on an 800 hour training year of those 4/6 routes? What would be the impact of having those routes set by women? Or having those routes as fingery and balancy slabs?

A small per cent of FA.

The BMC is looking at increasing access to better coaching to a wider number of hopefuls, both girls and boys, which makes a huge difference.
AlisterM - on 24 Jan 2013
There is form and precedent for mixing things up. At the junior BBC this year the boys A and B climbed the same problems. The girls did the same. There were four category winners and two overall winners, both from category B, so they had the chance to, and satisfaction of, whipping their elders.

At the Youth Open in December the winning climb in Youth A was an onsight of a 'hard' (to quote Ste M who set it) 8a+/b. After the comp, but still under pressure cos everyone was watching open-mouthed, the Youth A female winner and junior team captain flashed it. The two of them train together and drive each other on - their gender invisible to both of them.

So some form and precedent to say the very best girls can give it a go.

Don't let this debate get sidetracked by girls' routes and boys' routes because they generally climb the same ones in that, say, the Youth A girls' final might be the Youth A boys' 2nd qualifier, so everyone gets a mix of thuggy and balancey. So you could look at the Liverpool open and work out mixed placings. My guess is that only one girl would have made the podium in second on count back.

Here's the thing I think might scupper the enticing notion of mixed comps deciding both overall and gender results. Routes are set progressively - and I'm far from expert so this is a lay view - so the best climber tops and others come off lower down. Topping a comp route, clipping those chains, is what a competitor is psyched for. Anything else is, well, a fall. If the genders competed on mixed routes, weaker climbers ( see what I did there) would be less likely to have the motivating opportunity to top routes. Would they stay motivated?
AlisterM - on 24 Jan 2013
Very unscientific, but may be interesting. The boys’ Youth A 2nd qualifier at Liverpool was the girls’ Youth A final. It was up the left hand side of the wall and there’s a big overhanging barrel to climb through as well a lot of techie stuff. The boys climbed it flash (ie saw a demo and each other) and the girls theoretically climbed it onsight from isolation, but they’d all worked out it was going to be their final route and watched the boys. Scores, including all six girls in their final, were:

Buster Top
Molly 32+
Alex 27+
Tara 27
Gracie 26+
Luke 26+
Olivia 26+
Rachel 26+
Jamie 25+
Connor 24+
Eoin 24+
Eleanor 23
Jonny2vests - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Denni:
> (In reply to Graeme Alderson)
>
> Good old Mark, a good un. Can't remember the chaps name who set the routes at the Beacon for us, but he used to sleep in his van!

That would be Andy Long. He kind of has the monopoly on setting routes for the military comps these days, top bloke. I'm sure we have bumped into each other, I was at the Beacon comp.
John_Hat - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to various:

Lots and lots of interesting points here. Also, a much more complex issue than I'd originally have thought.

The way I would read it is that whilst participation in the sport is gender neutral - or at least not a vast skew towards men (anyone with a climbing wall fancy running a query against their database on Gender?), there are a lot less competitive female climbers (of all ages) than male climbers. This probably has a knock on effect to number of female route setters and testers.

However what has come out is that the female climbers are not, in any way, "worse" in standard than the men, and whilst the evidence is anecdotal, there is evidence that female climbers can most certainly compete directly with male - whether it be anecdotal stories of the female winner flashing the male final route after the competition, or a more scientific approach of actually looking at scores on a competition route climbed by both (AlisterM's post above).

This surprised me, in that I suspected that the route setting would be for power and strength which would mean that female climbers would be at a disadvantage - apparently not!

What has also come out is a lot of information on the psychology of youth climbers. Some views are that gender groups perform better when segregated, that girls prefer to climb in competition with girls. This appears a lot murkier issue to me. First of all, it's a blanket statement - does this apply to *all* girls? And should the girls who want to have the fun of embarrassing the boys be banned from doing so?

I guess to me it comes down to my world view that in 2013 people should be treated the same regardless of gender unless there is an overwhelming reason to do differently. For my own view, I'm not convinced that in this case the overwhelming reason exists.

In pretty much every other area of life (politics/business/etc) not only do males and female compete on the same playing field, but it is actually illegal to segregate that playing field. Sport is a bit of an exception, where women's sport is, frankly, poorly regarded, covered and funded and women are sidelined in most sports. There's only a few where the female competition (if it exists) has anywhere near the same billing, prize money, etc as the male. This again kind of offends my sense of equality.

Climbing, as a sport, feels to me as one where the is an opportunity to head for equality and *not* to follow the crowd or history (where women's sport generally didn't exist because women were confined to the kitchen) by dividing competition on gender lines simply because we always have done so.

Given that it's child's play to use the same routes for both girls and boys (in fact, as explained above, it already occurs to an extent) although a prize for top boy and top girl could still be given, of course, to satisfy those who feel that segregation is the way forward, I think there's an opportunity to try open competition and see what occurs.

--

Just a final point. There's a couple of kids at my local wall. Very, very good climbers. They belay each other up routes (generally the seriously hard stuff) and generally have a good time and appear to have a great friendship. One's a girl, one's a boy. It appears strange to me that when it comes to an official competition, they will not be allowed to do what they do every week down the wall, which is compete with each other.
tlm - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

> The way I would read it is that whilst participation in the sport is gender neutral - or at least not a vast skew towards men

Which walls do you go to John???!!! There are loads more men than women at the walls that I go to, although the number of women has gradually risen over the years.
Denni on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Denni)
> [...]
>
> That would be Andy Long. He kind of has the monopoly on setting routes for the military comps these days, top bloke. I'm sure we have bumped into each other, I was at the Beacon comp.

Thats the chap, nice bloke. Well they all are aren't they!
Must have bumped into you, been going to the comps for years either competing badly or helping out with the organisation.
tlm - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to lm610:

> It is only in the past decade that women have started to "show interest".

Along with other women, I've been 'showing interest' for longer than a decade!!! Cheeky lm610!!
tom_in_edinburgh - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to various)
>
The most obvious difference between a single competition and separate competitions for girls and boys is that half as many people would get a top 3 place and a medal (or whatever the prize is). Looking at the results for the Welsh competition which was mixed up to this year girls on average would get fewer podium places than boys. http://www.thewelshclimbingchampionships.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=...

Right now, a girl who is competitive in her age group may have a 1 in 2 chance of a top three place. A little more in the year when she is one of the older kids in the age range, a little less when she is one of the younger. Change to a mixed competition and she would have a 1 in 6 chance (assuming on average 2 boys and 1 girl get a top three place).

The goal of a mixed competition may be to make girls feel good about beating the boys but what will actually happen is 3 times fewer girls will get the experience of winning something. There is a lot of cost and effort involved in training for competitions and people will do the math and if there is hardly any chance of a top three place quite probably figure its not worth it.

I wouldn't be against using the same final route for the girls and boys competitions in the younger age groups and having an additional 'best overall' prize.
John_Hat - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
>
> [...]
>
> Which walls do you go to John???!!! There are loads more men than women at the walls that I go to, although the number of women has gradually risen over the years.

Redpoint, Birmingham...
i.fish2000 - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor: The IOC publish guidelines on trans* competitors which I think are applicable here too. The physical difference comes from the hormones present when the muscles are developing. The guide is if the person has been on HRT for 5 years and has constantly had hormones within the acceptable guidelines for the category they wish to compete in for 3 years, then they can enter (or something like that). After that time any physical advantage or disadvantage is gone,
duchessofmalfi - on 31 Jan 2013
Having been away for a few days I can summarise my feelings after this lengthy thread as:

- There is simply no good reason and no excuse for not having an open competition.

- An open competition does not prevent separate girls and boys rankings / winners.

- There are arguments for and against having separate girls and boys competitions (is segregated competing). The arguments for tend to reflect benefit to the groups (girls generally) and arguments against tend to reflect benefits for individuals.

- The performance gap between girls and boys appears narrower than most think and doesn't justify the lack of open competition.

- The questions regarding route setting may well be a red herring and should probably be discussed elsewhere. However, in my opinion, the has been no good reason given here why the gender balance of route setters shouldn't be addressed by the BMC - they supported this after all: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/womens-climbing-symposium-2012-report and route setting would appear to be a shoo-in for then next one.

- My preferred option would be an open competition with no segregation that would permit girls and boys to compete in whatever groups they wished. The competition would generate separate open, girls and boys rankings. Progression through the rounds would include top X boys and top X girls and go on to produce rankings for girls, boys and the top X in the open.




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