Breaking Gender Stereotypes & Empowering Women Through Weight Training
Happy International Women's Day! A day to celebrate women and to highlight the need for gender parity in the workplace. It’s hard to believe the prediction that the gender gap will not close entirely until 2186... Yes ladies, 2186??!*
Despite an increasing number of women in the workplace, women often are still not paid the same amount as their male counterparts – surely we don’t have to wait another 170 years for this to be so?
There are many reasons for this disparity. Often, traditional hierarchies are present. Men conditioned into believing that women should be paid less - often, but not always, passive discrimination, unaware of their bias.
But we too play our part. Many women lack the confidence that our male counterparts have when it comes to asking for promotions and pay rises, or when applying for jobs in the first place. Our upbringing, the media and history play their part.
We need to break our own stereotype and grow our confidence in our abilities as equal contributors to the workforce. As the Founder of ‘Girls Who Lift’ I have heard many of the ladies I train tell me how lifting weights helps to break this traditional stereotype of themselves and to feel empowered.
Here's what I've learnt throughout my career as a personal trainer:
We can help break the stereotype one deadlift at at time
Growing up, girls are often taught there is a limit to what they can achieve. Weight training however is an example that shows us that there is no limit. Through consistency, dedication and the right guidance we will get results and can achieve anything we put our mind to. It’s liberating to see how we can progress and grow stronger and achieve things we never thought were possible.
As girls, we are often taught that we are delicate and weak – even in this current day if you try and buy baby clothes it’s still pink for girls and blue for boys!! Sure, we can wear pink if we want but we can be strong whilst wearing it too! There’s something I find very empowering about lifting heavy weights be it deadlifts, chest presses or squats. It shows us how capable and strong we are. That girls can be tough too and should be just as tough in the workplace – a force to be reckoned with!
We are not the weaker sex – be it mentally or physically! We need to remind ourselves of this and believe in ourselves. We do not have to be the skinny, shapeless image often portrayed by the media, we can be strong and shapely or in fact any shape we want to be!
Our physical and mental confidence is intrinsically linked
Weight training not only makes you stronger physically but also mentally. Women see how not only their bodies can change but also their minds. They realise that they are capable of anything they put their minds to and are cable of getting the results they want.
Weight training shows women that they are stronger than they thought they were. Strength in the physical sense transfers over to mental strength – with the realisation that both the body and mind are capable of so much more than what we may have been told they are.
In a group training situation many women achieve more than they thought they were capable of – they do more sets/reps/lift more weights due to encouragement, support and positive influences around them – this reflects over to their mental attitudes, pushing the boundaries set by gender disparity.
As bodies tone, minds strengthen. In the short term women report feeling more alert, alive and focused after training and in the long term makes them feel more empowered in daily life – determined, strong and confident.
Weight training has improved and brought positivity into the lives of many women I have trained (and those I haven't!). Hopefully this can be transferred over into the workforce so we can have a more gender inclusive world – not just in the workplace but also in the weights section at the gym! ;)
*World Economic Forum - stat taken from https://www.internationalwomensday.com/