Why Are There So Few Female Jockeys?

Female jockeys such as Julie Krone, Chantal Sutherland, Hayley Turner, and Rosie Napravnik have made a name for themselves in a sport dominated primarily by men. But why is this the case? Why are there so few female jockeys, when on the face of it, due to them being more diminutive in size, they should be the ones to actually dominate the sport?

This disparity is even reflected in how well female jockeys fare in the horse betting market. For example, when Rosie Napravnik won the Breeders' Cup Distaff in 2014, her horse was given higher odds than it should have only because bookmakers felt that being a woman was some sort of a disadvantage for Rosie, despite her being one of the most distinguished jockeys at that time. Even these days, if you look at NetBet Horse Racing odds, you can see that horses ridden by female jockeys often get higher odds than they should, which can actually be a good opportunity for punters to win some extra money.

This certainly means that there are positive wagering opportunities when a horse is ridden by a female jockey, but the fact that this inequality between males and females is so pronounced should be worrying. So what are the reasons behind this difference in numbers? Is it only a coincidence, or is there something more to it?

Natural Handicap

The heading here might lead you to believe that we will take a chauvinistic approach and talk about how men are superior to women when it comes to sports. But this is not the case. What we are referring to with the natural handicap title is the fact that female jockeys, as all other female sportspersons, have the 'disadvantage' of having to become pregnant.

This pressure is imposed both by society and the woman's biological clock. The fact that the chances for conceiving and becoming pregnant decrease right around the time when a jockey finishes her career is a testament to how difficult it is for women to even consider getting involved with a sport such as horse racing.

Furthermore, there are some serious changes in the female body right around the time when they should be at the peak of their jockeying powers, which limit them from becoming the best they can be. Needless to say, if the jockey decides to stay pregnant and then tries to continue her career, there will be more than one noisy obstacle at home preventing her from giving her best.

Injury Risks

Another factor which works against women when it comes to becoming a jockey is the fact that to be successful in this sport, you have to make some downright crazy decisions in a split second. This is because horse racing is a very dangerous sport, and jockeys often suffer horrific injuries while doing their job.

Men are more inclined to act upon instinct and even make a poor decision before attempting a risky move, but this still puts them in a better position to compete with the more calculated female jockey.