In this mini-series of posts, the women of the clinic discuss the theme of ‘Break the Bias’, what this means to them, what International Women’s Day means to them, and experience they have that resonates with this year’s theme.
I volunteer at a boxing gym, and I have a “pro licence” meaning I can go in the corners at professional shows doing all the glamorous things like rinsing gumshields and wiping blood away. I boxed from the age of 13 to 18 so I have grown up in the boxing world where females have always been in the minority. I was always proud to “break the bias”, surprise people when I told them that I boxed, and I still do. In my own gym, stereotyping went out the window soon after my sister and I joined the club as the first female members. We made it our mission to prove we were no different to the boys, and all the guys at the gym accepted this pretty quickly and now they don’t think twice about the fact that I am the only girl there.
Admittedly, it is not always like that, and I have been stereotyped before. I don’t usually mind as it gives you an element of surprise when you turn out to actually know what you are talking about but there was one experience in particular that took me back.
When you go for your pro licence, you need to go for an interview. In my case, this was sitting in front of three men aged 45+. They were nice, asked me why I was interested in being a pro coach, talked about my experience and background in boxing, one of them said they even recognised me from when I used to box. However, towards the end of the interview the man in the middle started off a question with “I don’t really know how to phrase this” (red flag), before going on to ask “as a woman, how would a feel about the loud and rowdy atmosphere of a boxing show”. I was stunned. We had been talking about my background in boxing for the last 10 minutes yet that seems to be disregarded and the only fact that stuck out to him that I was going to be a woman in a “rowdy” atmosphere, and oh my, how would I ever cope? (🤦🏻♀️ 🤦🏻♀️ 🤦🏻♀️)
I only let out a dry laugh before saying “yeah, I think I’ll be fine”. I am sad to say I didn’t say something more quick or forward thinking like “would you have asked a man that” or “if you had to think that hard to ask the question you probably shouldn’t have asked it”. I know they didn’t mean any harm, but that isn’t really the point, is it?
So now I am a female pro coach. Female boxers and overall female presence in boxing are becoming more and more prominent and it is something that I am proud to be a part of alongside my studies and work at the Law Clinic.
By Laura Nicol, Student Advisor and Communications Officer
To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.