More women will compete in the Olympics in 2016 than in any other year in history, data from the International Olympic Committee shows.
When women were first permitted to enter the Olympic Games in 1900, they represented just 22 of 997 — or 2.2 percent — of the athletic competitors. They had only five sports to compete in: tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrian, and golf — while men had 19. Only two of these five events, tennis and golf, were for women only.
While women still face an uphill battle in achieving equal gender representation at the Olympics, things have dramatically improved in recent years.
In Rio, 45 percent of all competitors will be women. That’s more than double the figure from 1976, just 40 years ago. There will be some 4,700 women competitors of 10,444 total athletes — a 6.8 percent increase since 2000.
More events are for women than ever before
Of the competitions that take place at the Olympics, 47.5 percent of them will be with female competitors — another record for the games.
This is, in part, a result of increased efforts by the IOC and other advocacy groups to lobby for more women’s sports.
While there were only two such Olympic sports in 1900, the 2016 Olympics will feature a record-setting 28 women’s sports, including this year’s new addition of rugby, and the reintroduction of women’s golf.
While female Olympics competitors are closing in on the gender parity gap, women are still lagging behind in the boardroom, where executive decisions are made.
Today, only 24 of 106 International Olympic Committee board members (22.6 percent) are women.