Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Gender Bias in Chess

Well, it was about a year ago that I wrote my last blog post about gender bias in chess so it's about time I wrote another. First, congratulations to the new Women's World Champion! Of course, you all know who I'm talking about....no? Well, I guess that's because no one takes the Women's World Championship seriously. But a big congratulations to Ju Wenjun of China for winning. She takes home a not unreasonable 120,000 Euros and the title for the next....well, we're not exactly sure how long she'll keep the title for, but at least 6 months, probably! Compared to the Open World Championship, however, this is rather pathetic. Carlsen and Caruana will compete for the rock bottom prize fund of 1,000,000 Euros with the winner getting somewhat more than half, and keeping the title for the next 2 years.

So where is the equity? At the present moment, the World of tennis is seeing Wimbledon being played where the men's and women's champions will receive the same prize money, as they have since 2007. Of course, men and women aren't allowed to play against each other in tennis, where in chess women can play in men's events and in their own separate women only events. But why? Either women aren't as good as men naturally, so they shouldn't be allowed to play together, or there is no difference naturally, so there should be just one title, or at least parity in prize money.

Perhaps if we had more women in positions of leadership in the chess world that might have an impact on retention of girls in chess and promotion of the game among girls and women. Alas, women aren't being admitted to these positions for one reason or another. Take the recent case of the English Chess Federation abolishing the position of director of women's chess. After complaints, they reissued the job, rejected 2 reasonable looking female candidates, and gave it to a man. I'm not saying that the man isn't also a reasonable candidate, but this is a perfect opportunity to entitle women to participate in leadership roles over an issue that they will be passionate about, more so probably, than any man! From what I've heard, the best man might have got the job, but the female candidates weren't given a particularly fair chance. Read about it here.

So without going into too much detail about the upcoming FIDE elections, how well will women be represented on the new Presidential team? Yes, it will be a new team as Ilyumzhinov isn't standing (cue a bunch of munchkins coming out of hiding breaking into song about the death of a witch!). All three candidates, Dvorkovich, Makropoulos and Short have female representation in their teams which is a good thing. The more women in leadership positions throughout the chess world, will surely encourage more girls and women into the game and give them a voice in a position of power.

Finally, this is a subject I won't let go. As long as I am writing this blog, and there is sexism, blatant or hidden, in the chess world, then I'll be writing about it. It's something we shouldn't tolerate in life generally speaking, and in our little corner of society as a chess community. Hopefully I'll get through to a few people and if I do it will be worth it.

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