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Share of women in the winter Olympics 1924 to 2018

Participation in the modern Olympic Games, established in 1894 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was initially restricted to only male athletes. Despite strong objection from de Coubertin the 1900 Summer Olympics, held in Paris, became the first event to which female athletes were permitted to participate. Despite this, participation for women was still heavily restricted to only five sports that were considered to be compatible with their femininity and fragility, tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrian and golf. Since this time the participation of women within the Olympic Games has increased significantly, however it was not until the 2012 Olympic Games in London that there was female representation within all sports in the Olympic program.

Gender Inequality in the Winter Olympics

During the first winter Olympic Games in 1924, the regulatory exclusion of female participants from many of the major sporting disciplines remained a very prevalent issue with participation restricted to only one sport, figure skating. It wasn’t until the 1936 games that women were allowed to compete in another sport besides figure skating. It was at those games Alpine Skiing was introduced to both male and female athletes.

Recent Trends

Although the female participation within the winter Olympics has increased significantly throughout the history of both the summer and winter Olympic Games women have still yet to reach 50 percent with only 41 percent of participants within the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games were women. This statistic shows the share of female participants throughout the history of the winter Olympic Games. It displays a consistent increase in the share of female participants between 1924 and 1960, representing the increasing number of sports that were available for women to compete in. In 1960 the biathlon and speed skating were then added to the list of women’s sports and the share of female participants reached 21.5 percent. Despite an increase in the number of female participants between 1960 and 1992, there was also a substantial increase in the total number of participants, as such the share of female participants during this period did not increase. In 1991 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the decision that any new sport seeking to be included on the Olympic program had to include women’s events, leading to a significant increase in the share of female participants within the winter Olympics.

Share of women participants in the Olympic winter games from 1924 to 2018

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Release date

October 2018



Survey time period

1924 to 2018

Supplementary notes

Including mixed and open events.

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Statistics on "Winter Olympics 2018"

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