Why aren't younger women as competitive? I think this has everything to do with the prevalence in our society of messages and images that trivialize women's sports. From ads that treat elite athletes as sex objects, to the drumbeat of Title IX-haters who angrily equate women's success in sport as a threat to men, is it any wonder that women internalize the belief that a competitive drive is incompatible with femininity? At least there's hope, as older women, more secure in themselves seem less concerned about holding back in order to appeal to men.
Mary Wittenberg, president of New York Road Runners, thinks part of the answer is that most female runners shortchange themselves. Look at them before races she said. Men warm up and do strides, short runs to prepare to take off at the starting line. A lot of women hang back, often because they are embarrassed to be out there with the men, acting like determined athletes, Ms. Wittenberg said.
“They are too inhibited to put their full passion out there,” she said. “They are almost afraid to be serious about a sport. They think that if they’re not the best, they shouldn’t care so much.”