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J Sports Sci Med. 2010 Jun 1;9(2):214-23. eCollection 2010.

Women and Men in Sport Performance: The Gender Gap has not Evolved since 1983.

Author information

1
IRMES, INSEP , Paris, France.

Abstract

Sex is a major factor influencing best performances and world records. Here the evolution of the difference between men and women's best performances is characterized through the analysis of 82 quantifiable events since the beginning of the Olympic era. For each event in swimming, athletics, track cycling, weightlifting and speed skating the gender gap is fitted to compare male and female records. It is also studied through the best performance of the top 10 performers in each gender for swimming and athletics. A stabilization of the gender gap in world records is observed after 1983, at a mean difference of 10.0% ± 2.94 between men and women for all events. The gender gap ranges from 5.5% (800-m freestyle, swimming) to 18.8% (long jump). The mean gap is 10.7% for running performances, 17.5% for jumps, 8.9% for swimming races, 7.0% for speed skating and 8.7% in cycling. The top ten performers' analysis reveals a similar gender gap trend with a stabilization in 1982 at 11.7%, despite the large growth in participation of women from eastern and western countries, that coincided with later- published evidence of state-institutionalized or individual doping. These results suggest that women will not run, jump, swim or ride as fast as men. Key pointsSex is a major factor influencing best performances and world records.A stabilization of the gender gap in world records is observed after 1983, at a mean difference of 10.0% ± 2.94 between men and women for all events.The gender gap ranges from 5.5% (800-m freestyle, swimming) to 36.8% (weight lifting).The top ten performers' analysis reveals a similar gender gap trend with a stabilization in 1982 at 11.7%.Results suggest that women will not run, jump, swim or ride as fast as men.

KEYWORDS:

World records; best performances; elite sport; gender difference

PMID:
24149688
PMCID:
PMC3761733

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