I learnt to ring at school. It was a girl’s boarding school and while we were taught by a Mr, he was the only man at our practices. So, whether we rang the front 6 or all 8, we had to learn to ring the back bells as well as the front ones. This changed when I went to another school for a year where initially, I was the only girl ringing. I managed to arrange for more girls to learn, several of whom continued their ringing after I left. After a break of about 5 years, I returned to ringing to a more traditional set up. However, I have never come across the situation where I have seen, heard of or experienced ringers being restricted in their ringing due to their gender. Thinking about ringing on heavy rings of bells, there is as much skill required to ring the little bells as the heavier ones, only a different sort of skill.
I am now tower captain of our local church and worked with the young ringers team before Covid 19 brought everything to a standstill.
Generally our young ringers are a good cross section and both girls and boys will call touches if required and ring anywhere in the circle. Why does the gender balance change over time? Could it be that women get satisfaction from ringing by achieving different targets from men? Ringing is a past time or hobby not a job. We ring as volunteers and certainly talking to our local ringers, there are lots of different reasons why people ring. I don’t look to achieve specific targets like peals rung or towers grabbed. Rather I get satisfaction from taking part in a good peal, a learning challenge or watching someone develop as a ringer. I have called a few quarter peals but there is often someone much keener to conduct than I am, so I am happy to let them.
Perhaps the question should be posed to those people who feel they have been held back in their ringing. Why do they think they have not been given the opportunities? Have they identified what is holding them back and tried to address the issue?