Journalist Laura Robinson knows first-hand the challenges of being a woman in sport.
A three-time Ontario cycling champion, 1979 Ontario and Canadian rowing champion, active Nordic skier and runner, Robinson recalls an active childhood in which she was encouraged by her family to pursue her love for athletics. She was surprised and angered to find, even at a young age, that sports were not welcoming to girls and women.
Growing up in what is now Mississauga, Ontario, Robinson discovered her interest in cycling when a group of local boys biked to her house.
“I saw this long line of bicycles outside of our house and I knew that I had to be a cyclist,” she recalls. “They just glinted in the sun and they looked so fast. I saved my baby-sitting money for about three or four months and I bought a ten-speed.”
It was after she started to pursue competitive cycling that Robinson noticed the attitude taken toward women in her sport.
“While my own cycling club was wonderful − and they really supported me − once I went beyond and started racing at a provincial level, it was clear that a lot of people didn’t want the women there at all,” she says.
This experience, coupled with her exposure to the women’s movement in the 1970s, inspired Robinson to tell the story of misogyny in sport. She has made this feminist perspective the basis of her sports analysis over the course of her career.
As the 2011 Distinguished Visitor in Women’s Studies, she will be in Windsor from October 19 to 26. Robinson will deliver the keynote address, “Too Many Men on the Ice: What the World Would Look Like If Don Cherry Were a Woman,” at a community dinner on Wednesday, October 19.
Details of this and other events are available at www.uwindsor.ca/womensstudies/dvws.