The working group has completed it's task and submitted a report and recommendations to the Central Council for Church Bellringers.   This website is minimally maintained as an archive and a benchmark to measure future progress.


All data charts

Bradfield students by age group

Students are more likely to be older women

71% of the applicants to the Bradfield Course in 2019 were women. Just over half the applicants of the course were women aged 50 to 69, 18% were men in the same age bracket. In the age group 40 to 59, 82% were women. Males only outnumbered females in the under 18 age group, and that was only 8 to 6.

Bradfield students by method

Women are well represented across the method scale

Bradfield offers a variety of courses from Bell Experience to Stedman Triples and Surprise Major. Women applicants are fairly evenly distributed across the levels, so there is no evidence that women are more concentrated on earlier stages of ringing.

Bradfield helpers by method

Distribution of women helpers at the Bradfield Course

Overall 45 of the 91 helpers were female. The distribution by gender among the groups was less even for the helpers, with Plain Hunt to Plain Bob Minor having more women, while Stedman and Surprise had more men.

Which bells are women ringing in Tower QPs?

Which bells women ring versus which bells a conductor rings

The overall trend is that it is overwhelmingly more likely that a front bell will be rung by a woman than a back bell will be.

Where there is discussion about the lack of female conductors, it is often speculated that a lot of conductors call peals and quarter peals from around the middle or back section of the circle, often from a traditionally “fixed” bell.

This chart compares the probabilities of specific bells and positions being rung by women (in green), and also by conductors (pink) for quarter peals in tower.

Which bell are women ringing in Tower peals?

Which bells women ring versus which bells a conductor rings in tower peals

This chart shows where in the circle women tend to ring (in green) versus where a conductor tends to ring (in pink), this time for peals in tower.

These charts allow a direct comparison between where in the circle performances are called from (overwhelmingly the middle and back sections of the circle), and where in the circle women ring (greatly overrepresented around the front) - demonstrating an obvious disparity.

Which pair do women tend to ring in handbell peals

The tendency for women to ring the treble pair is more pronounced for peals.

The tendency to women to ring or be placed on the 1-2 pair is even more pronounced in handbell peals. It can’t be assumed that 1-2 is always a technically less challenging pair to ring, a particular example of this being Stedman, where it is just as challenging (if not more, depending on the composition) as any other inside pair. However Stedman (on all stages) only accounted for 3.29% of handbell peals in 2019, and in only one of these peals was 1-2 rung by a woman. This means the overwhelming majority of the data in the chart represent treble-fixed peals of plain or treble dodging methods.

The 2019 National 12-bell contest

Percentage of women ringing and conducting in the 2019 competition

The data provided is from the 2019 final at Exeter Cathedral. Of 120 contestants, 27.5% were female (this is slightly higher than the average proportion of female participants in the final since the contest started, which is 25%). This ranged between two and five members of individual teams being female.  Only 3 females in the final rang in the back half of the circle (bells 7-12), accounting for just 5% of the ringers placed on one of these bells, and just 9.1% of the total female participants. This was also the case at the 2018 final at Cambridge, so cannot be solely attributed to the challenging size of Exeter Cathedral’s bells.

Full article and analysis here:  From Learners to Contest Judges – is gender balance being achieved in ringing?

Female participation in the 12-bell competition

Percentage of women ringing and judging the National 12-bell competition

It is interesting to look at participation of judges of this competition compared to participating ringers.  There have been 143 judging positions at the finals since the contest began (i.e. this data isn’t counting the number of distinct judges – if someone has judged 2 finals, they will be counted twice). Of these, 20 positions (14%) have been held by women. There have been 298 eliminator judges (the same caveat applies), of which 58 (19%) have been female roles.

Full article and analysis here:  From Learners to Contest Judges – is gender balance being achieved in ringing?

Gender balance of leadership positions in ringing

This graph shows the gender split in association officers

There is a significant difference comparing the proportion of Association Masters who are women to the proportion of Secretaries. 61 % of Masters are men whereas 63% of women are currently holding the Secretary role. This does not seem to have shifted since 2010. It therefore seems that, across the exercise, there is a tendency for women to take on the more supportive and administrative role.

Ringer's leaky pipeline

Cumulative data showing the how women start to disappear from ringing

We now know that we have a near-even gender split upon recruitment, and through basic stages of learning. This is lost at more advanced levels of ringing - both in contest ringing, and in ringing quarter peals and peals.