Horse racing urged to fix ‘old school male’ attitude towards motherhood

<p>Lizzie Kelly retired earlier this year was she announced she is pregnant</p>

Lizzie Kelly retired earlier this year was she announced she is pregnant

(PA)
15:51pm, Sat 05 Dec 2020
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Horse racing has been told it should fix its ‘old school male’ attitude towards motherhood after new research into the topic emerged.

Women in Racing (WiR) found that female workers across the sport are being driven out of the industry because of its male culture and some women even feel they have to ‘act quite male if you want to ride good horses’.

The research, conducted by WiR and Oxford Brookes University, is based on 50 interviews with both men and women in the industry.

And while the CEO of Women in Racing, Tallulah Lewis, says the research is a good step forward, she also urged changes need to be made quickly.

She told The Telegraph: “There is so much opportunity in a really simple way to make significant changes to women’s lives and working environments.  

“There is a leaky pipeline in the racing industry, but this is a real opportunity to create sustainability. We know that going forward, we’re going to have to make sure that there’s an environment where we can retain staff.”

Training yards were found to be slower to adapt to change than bigger racecourses with some trainers being described as ‘dinosaurs’.

One woman said: “I had hideous things said to me when I returned [to the workplace] [...]. if you dared to take time off if your children were ill it was like... the next day, ‘I had to ride your ones yesterday’... Why should you be penalised for choosing to have children and work?... people treat you as an inconvenience because you have children.”

Some women do step away from parts of the industry to have children but remain in the sport in other capacities.

Kelly has given birth to a baby boy

(PA)

History-maker Lizzie Kelly, the first woman to ride a Grade One winner over jumps in Britain, retired at 27 earlier this year as she announced she was pregnant.

Kelly, who gave birth to a boy last weekend, is now a trainer and told NewsChain in July that she stepped away from racing as her ‘priorities’ will change as a mother.

She said: “There’s no getting away from it, it is a dangerous sport and my responsibility and priorities in life will fundamentally change and it's not really something you can do half-hearted.  

"It’s not like other sports where you can go back to being a tennis player or a swimmer because the likelihood you're going to be paralysed in a tennis match is fairly slim. The real hard reality of horse racing is that it’s very dangerous to be a jockey.  

“If I do decide to go back racing, it won’t be in the same way. I won’t be riding young or difficult horses.”

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