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.


Gender bias in bell ringing

You have asked for  instances when I have felt that there was gender discrimination. Here's a few:

  • during a routine practice night, comments are made if the line up to ring happens to be all female. Or the RM deliberately creates an all female line up for no reason other than it is all female. Similar all male line ups are not deliberately created or commented on.
  • asking if I could ring the tenor and being told 'no' by the RM (male) because I won't manage it.
  • similarly asking to ring the 7th of 10 (different tower, different male RM) and being told to ring the 2 instead because I wouldn't manage the 7 (NB I stuck to my guns on each occasion and was fine)
  • attending regular home practices in which other learners (all of whom were male) were provided with a prime practice slot but the same opportunity was not offered to me unless I specifically requested it; no other female learners at this time so difficult to be sure that this was gender related but the general ambience suggested so
  • asking to help with teaching learners and being told no (by 2 different males; same tower) (may or may not involve gender - difficult to be sure)
  • offering to hold an emergency key for a local tower and being told n because a male living much further away will be asked instead (again can't be sure this is gender related but no obvious reason, so one wonders)
  • the majority of dissatisfied ringers at home towers in my locality are female. Perhaps the males simply don't expresss their dissatisfaction? Or are not so sensitive to all the nuances around them? Something to consider. But generally when asking about the route cause of unhappiness there will be a (at the very least perceived if not necessarily actual) gender related incident cited. This opens up a whole avenue of possible explanations
  • I definitely notice female ringers discriminating against themselves in terms of behaviour, which encourages embedding of that behaviour by others. Very often this will be 'I can only manage a lighter bell' type of thing. It is rare for a man to say that unless physically incapacitated which is fair enough.
  • A flip side is that I think any gender bias is much less prevalent in the yonger generation. Youngsters are far more inclined to offer males and females of all ages the same opportunities within ringing; certainly I can't think of any situations when mixing with youngsters (up to at least post uni age) where there has been any suggestion of bias.

I think the key is for women to actively seek out the practices and the people where opportunities are provided appropriately to all individuals. Discard those that don't meet requirements. They'll soon get the message.

And don't play the underdog!