Cambridge women's rowers pull out of 'sexist' regatta

Image credit: Johannes Black

Unequal treatment of male and female rowers has led the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club to pull out of an international regatta in Croatia.

The women’s team were told that they would stay in a hostel for the Sveti Duje regatta in May and would have to pay for their own transport, despite their male counterparts enjoying a five-star resort complete with private beach.

In a statement on the event’s Facebook page, last year’s CUWBC president, Ashton Brown, criticised the inequality of accommodation and said she was “much more interested in non-sexist events so decided not to attend”.

The current president, Daphne Martschenko, responded to those who have emphasised the need for women to contribute to making the event more inclusive, asking “how long do you expect us to wait?”

Martschenko said she and her team-mates have spent two years “accepting a lower standard in the hopes that the regatta would get increased attendance with our presence.”

Likewise, Brown rejected the idea that “the onus is on women to support the event until the sexism goes away” and argued that “by accepting things as they are, I would be implicitly be saying that was ok”.

Some have blamed the event itself, although the regatta organisers pointed to the lack of space available to house all teams in equal accommodation. Funding, however, comes largely from sponsors; Brown suggested that if a sponsor is only willing to finance one gender, “that should be a sign the sponsor isn’t worth having.”

The scandal comes three years after the women’s Boat Race began to televised and held alongside the men’s event, and it will raise questions about the progress still needed to eradicate the gender imbalance in rowing. 

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