First posted: 25 April 2022

Confessions of a sexist ringing master

I ran a practice today. I had good intentions to be even handed, and encourage women as much as possible. However, I fell into old habits.

graph

We had 13 strong ringers. I didn't mind who covered for our touches of triples. Generally I accepted the offer of anyone who stepped forward. However, after an hour or so I remembered to say "actually, I was going to offer it to (let's call her) Jane". And Jane was pleased to take it, though slightly nervous. I was reminded that every chance to ring, including covering, is an opportunity to improve one's ropesight, bell-handling and confidence. Furthermore, one sometimes picks up some of the structure of the method by viewing it from the tenor. Ideally, women would speak up offering to cover and making my job as Ringing Master slightly easier, but they are in a habit as much as I am. It takes determination to break that habit.

It is a lot of small examples such as mine today that means, on average, male ringers get better nurturing than female ringers, which eventually shows up in our Quarter Peal and Peal statistics. The graph above shows the number of 8-bell ANZAB QPs rung in 2021. They are sorted by the number of male to female ringers, showing that only one QP in the whole year had a band with a majority of women. The good news is we only need to increase the number of women in each QP by one (on average) to make the graph a lot more symmetric. However, we are going to have to make a much greater effort to ensure we are getting the full benefit of women as conductors.

More details of ANZAB Peal and QP statistics by gender can be found here, and see the Women in Ringing page for further discussion about why this is important, and ideas we can try to help improve the situation.

Deryn Griffiths
24 April 2022

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