Go girl! Women pushing to close sporting gender gap
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The phenomenal speeds reached by the teenage Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen at the 2012 Olympics are raising questions about whether the gap between men and women in sport may one day disappear.
Ye, who has so far won two gold medals and broken a world record at the London Games, clocked a time for the last, freestyle lap of her medley swim that rivalled the male champions.
There's plenty of evidence to show the gender gap exists, and has done ever since women have competed alongside men in international sporting events.
Yet the gap has been narrowing over the decades - so will women one day catch the men?
They'll get close, says John Brewer, a professor of sports science at Britain's University of Bedfordshire – but only in some events.
MORE WOMEN DOING MORE SPORTS
Women first took part in the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900, four years after the first Games of the modern era in Athens.
Female participation has increased steadily since then, with women accounting for around 45 percent of athletes at the 2012 Games, compared with 23 percent in Los Angeles in 1984 and just over 13 percent in Tokyo in 1964.
But women have not always been allowed to compete in all the sports at all the distances that men tackle.
In more mature sports where women and men have been running, jumping or swimming alongside each other in international competition for many decades, the gap has stabilised, Brewer said.
But where the gap is still narrowing is in female sports that are less mature, like the endurance events - the marathon, the 10,000m, and long-distance swimming, he said.
Women have only been allowed to run the marathon at Olympic Games since 1984, while the 10,000 metre women's running race was only introduced in 1988.
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