Welcome to Rising Traceuse A global resource for parkour athletes
Welcome to Rising Traceuse A global resource for parkour athletes

Where Are All the Parkour Women?

A Look at the General Absence of Women in Parkour

Several years ago, I walked into a gymnasium in Brazil that was rented out for a regional parkour jam. It was my first introduction to the parkour community, and I couldn't wait to start training. It didn't take me long to realize that parkour is a male-dominated discipline. At least 14 out of every 15 parkour athletes were men. (That's me being generous with my ratio.) Parkour women were simply not common.

See what I mean?

I recently went to an event at a parkour gym in the USA. Same thing. This all-too-common situation begs the question:

Where are all the parkour women?

So, I took a good look at the parkour community and talked with some men and women who have been practicing parkour for a while. This helped me draw a few conclusions. They may not apply to everyone, but they certainly play a role in this dilemma.

3 Explanations for the Low Number of Parkour Women

  • Gender roles discourage women from practicing any sport or discipline viewed as "extreme" or "male-oriented"by society.

    Think about it. Parkour is a discipline that spread around the world largely thanks to YouTube. How many videos of parkour women have you seen on YouTube? On a different note, how many parkour videos have you seen that feature irresponsible, dangerous or even simply advanced-level movements that appear extreme to the casual viewer? Exactly.

  • Women and men have different physical strengths and cognitive tendencies. When either party doesn't understand this, it leads parkour women to feel inferior or weak.

    This makes some women stop practicing parkour and even prevents them from starting in the first place. I believe parkour women are capable of accomplishing anything they set their minds to, but they have to realize that they have a different learning curve. This has its advantages and disadvantages. I will elaborate on that in a future blog post.

  • The absence of parkour women is intimidating to many women who want to begin.

    I was the only parkour woman in my training group for a long time, so I'm familiar with the feeling of isolation. Even when you are with good friends, there are just certain challenges that men cannot relate to. I was lucky enough to have my husband to teach me the basics. Still, training was a lot more comfortable and enjoyable after a few other parkour women joined the group.

    Will we ever see more women practicing the amazing, rewarding discipline that is parkour? Maybe. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

    Ladies, what do you think? What pushed you to start training? Also, what can we do to encourage more women to begin? Guys, what are your thoughts on the number of Parkour Women? Leave a comment below to share your opinion, and don't forget to Like Rising Traceuse on Facebook.
  • Comments

    1. Hey Brooke!
      I had exactly the same situation - in my city I was the only one girl for long time, and even though guys started to accept me an treat like "an equal training mate" I felt really isolated.
      I also noticed, that I was progessing much slower back then, than comparing to present times when few girls joined my group. Even though they have less experience, they inspire and motivate me, really a lot!

      In my opinion the biggest problem is the difference between men and women - that scares a lot of girls, makes them think they will never reach 'boys level', they are afraid of trying. That's why shy girls probably will never start doing parkour, even though they want it.
      Here an example: I wanted to train parkour, so I started. I did not mind 'solitude' nor being on much lower level than my friends. But my new girls also wanted to train, and found it extremely difficult to join us because of... my male friends. "Oh they will see how weak I am"/ "No, I won't jump it, HE is looking, HE will laugh when I bail..." To sum up, in my city there are around 8 traceuses including me, but without my invitation I think there would be like 2-3 traceuses. So it's not about a small amount of women being interested in this sport, but about big group of women being too shy!

      1. Wow, you were in a very similar situation! Congratulations for overcoming it and helping other women to start training.

        That is a great point. I have also met a lot of women who wanted to start training but felt intimidated because they thought everyone would be watching them, waiting for them to fail. I think if we begin to organize introductory "girls only" parkour trainings in our city, that might help more women to feel comfortable enough to get started.

      2. Hahaha, that's exactly what I did! Weekly trainings, girls only. And not to isolate them from the group, but to make them start training parkour. The biggest success is when a girl like this after few training sessions decides to train with boys - fear: overcame! And I'm sooo happy because of it ;D

      3. Hey there, I just had a question for you girls, don't you think that just being in a beginner group would be enough to make girls not be intimidated? I mean, I am a girl, and when I started I was shy because I SUCKED not because I was a girl XD I mean, why isolate traceurs for their gender and not their level?? I never understood the gender thing so, do you girls think it would still be a problem?
        Because, not just girls face that problem, beginner guys are also very shy when they begin XD
        So what do you think?

      4. Hey Tam, great point! I was the only true beginner in my group for quite a while, and I always felt way more comfortable when I was around people at my level. On the other hand, I remember that guys would sometimes feel awkward around me and just stick to each other.

        If there are at least two women in a group of beginners, I think it is enough for them not to feel awkward and to train comfortably.

        However, If we're talking about a beginner's class, I am sure that would make being the only woman in the group a lot easier.

    2. As a guy, I would love to see some girls jumping and running with us. My wife tried once and gave up, but I know there are girls out there that have that same spirit about them. The will to hit that lip as many times as it takes to get it right. I feel like many girls feel that they aren't as good physically as guys, and when we hit a difficult jump it's because we're showing off or better.

      I just want to say to anyone reading this, we aren't trying to show off (most of the time), we just have this need to get better. That's what Parkour is all about. We may be better, but that's only because we've been at it longer or have had some killer instruction or help.

      I would love to see more ladies start out. I'm just starting out myself, and if anyone wants to join me, I'm in central Phoenix, AZ. You can look me up by my Google acocunt, which I posted this with.

      1. Great thoughts, Robert. Thanks for sharing them! I think you are very right. A lot of women simply feel inadequate because they don't realize they, too, are capable of awesome strength and movement after plenty of practice.

        Good luck with your training in Arizona! I am sure the year-round warm weather and urban landscape create some great training conditions.