From todays NEBRA Promoters Google Group:
In light of some recent social media postings about prize lists, I wanted to address that here. I realize that some folks have very strong opinions on this subject- I count myself among them. But this is an important topic and as we look to maintain and improve cycling in New England, it is one that needs to be publicly addressed. My personal opinion as a race director, and my professional opinion as Administrator are pretty much in alignment on this, so I may waver back and forth between “we” and “I” but I’m speaking here as NEBRA’s Administrator.
As mentioned in the NEBRA Best Practices document for Race Directors we encourage prize list parity between equivalent men’s and women’s categories. I cannot encourage promoters enough to follow this suggestion. A prize list that does not offer parity is a liability to your event, and a liability to you as a promoter. If there was ever a case of “what we’ve always done” directly hurting you and your race, this is it.
A common response the suggestion of equal payouts is “the women don’t show up to race”. However, it doesn’t matter what your turnout is, we do not believe a high quality event should be basing prize lists on turnout. There is no event that I know of that pays the Cat 4 Men (almost always a larger field) more than the Pro 1/2 Men. Field size is not the determinate of current payout practices and should not be used as a justification for paying Elite Women less than Elite Men. The entry fees at an event all go towards the event budget. You can no more break out individual categories contribution to their prize list than you can parse the cost for neutral support based on who crashes more.
Women make up about 15% of the total bike racers in New England, so it is fair to say that your event registration will likely follow that split. That isn’t an excuse to shortchange the women on prize lists. A women’s field of 15 is 5% of the available women racers in New England. A men’s field of 100 is only 3.7% of the available men. To expect full women’s fields with our current demographic breakdown just isn’t realistic. Women’s race participation is growing but it will take time to catch up to the men. Events like Exeter and the New England Cyclocross Series have shown that if you offer women an equal place they will turn out in ever increasing numbers.
This is often perceived as a charged topic. And I expect that there will be a lot of sound and fury on this one. But no amount of arguing or number crunching is going to change the outcome. Prize list parity is a standard in events now. That will not change.
NEBRA is firmly committed to supporting parity. The 2016 NEBRA Trophy presented by BikeReg series will be announced shortly, and prize list parity is mandatory for those events. For State and Regional Championships prize list decisions remain up to the individual race director for this year, with a preference for events with equal prize money. Looking forward prize list parity will become a mandatory requirement for New England Regional Championships in 2017, and all State Championships in New England by 2018.