How Weight Room Culture Negatively Affects Female Participation

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Catherine Goodman , Editor-In-Chief

“If you’re not upset about this problem, then you are a part of it,” said female Oregon Basketball player Sedona Prince, after exposing the blatant disparity between the women’s weight room and the men’s at the NCAA tournament this spring. However, this insinuation that female athletes do not deserve respect in regards to lifting is a part of a larger problem.

Women across the nation are intimidated by the “Boy’s Club” mentality encouraged in weight rooms, and here at Country Day, this remains especially true.

The weight room has historically been a place for men. Weights are associated with bodybuilding, extreme fitness, and the macho image of building strength. Despite the clear importance of strength training to athletic performance and injury prevention, this image has left female athletes feeling outnumbered and overlooked. What female has not seen heads turn when she walks into the weight room to lift, sending the message, “What are you doing here?”

Gender discrepancies in the weight room are common and often dismissed by advisors. 

At Country Day, female athletes across all sports expressed their intimidation in joining weight room activities. 

Junior Fiona Wilson said, “not having a ton of experience definitely makes girls more hesitant to go to the weight room, especially when there’s usually a ton of guys in there,” highlighting a key component to weight room intimidation. 

Inexperience leads to a cycle of underestimating and invalidating female athletes who are interested in lifting. 

“I feel intimidated not because of weights or the workout itself.” Sophomore Ella Stone said, “but by the many things that are altered for the girls.”

While Country Day has made valiant efforts to include female athletes in lifting, inclusion is not enough. Female athletes need to feel not only welcome but supported in the weight room. To remedy this problem, Country Day athletes suggested some solutions, including advertising the weight room as a safe space for women, encouraging young athletes to lift weights early in their career, and creating a new, inclusive environment within the weight room. Maybe include a picture of our region championship women’s basketball team alongside the football pictures?