Women ‘Talk it Out’ about Gender Biases in Endurance Sports

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On Thursday, Live Grit hosted a roundtable discussion on gender equality in the endurance sports community. The conversation is part of several sessions sponsored by the Chicago Foundation for Women as part of Talk it Out, its week-long initiative to spark understanding and communication about gender bias with hopes of eliminating gender bias by 2030.

Gillian Fealy, owner of Live Grit, and ultramarathon runner Will Gane led the discussion at Live Grit.

Kyle Ann Sebastian of CFW moderated the hour-long conversation featuring Gillian Fealy, owner of Live Grit, and ultramarathon runner Will Gane, who in July will run 600 miles across California’s Death Valley National Park to raise awareness of gender equality.

Gane began the dialogue by discussing this plan, which he says has been completed less than five times in history. Beginning July 1, he will cross Death Valley three times in 12 days to raise funds and awareness for Girls on the Run, an after school running program for girls.

Inspired by his experience of being raised by a single mother, he completed the Badwater 135 ultramarathon in support of women’s equality last summer. Because gender inequality continues to plague both the sports community and society overall, he felt compelled to undertake an even greater challenge this year.

From there, women shared their own experiences with gender bias as endurance athletes. They also considered some of the barriers still facing women marathoners and triathletes, including a lack of social support and assistance with childcare responsibilities. They also examined into the underlying causes of these issues, like differences in media coverage and portrayal and sponsorship opportunities. Finally, they proposed strategies for exposing and reducing gender bias in their own training circles and empowering both men and women athletes to maximize their full potential.

Track Gane’s journey here.

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Kathleen McAuliffe is a graduate journalism student, freelance writer, distance runner and overall enthusiast. Ever since high-school cross country, she’s been hooked on the high of racing; after finishing her first marathon at Fox Valley last fall, Kathleen is looking forward to another marathon this fall and a few half marathons along the way. “Running is my favorite way to meet new people and explore new places, so I’m thrilled to be an ambassador,” she says.

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