I was going to rant, in Dutch, about a different topic but a brief twitter exchange with @BartVeldkamp let to this topic instead: comparing men’s and women’s world records.
Bart tweeted that the gold and silver medal winners from the 1998 winter olympics would have finished 4th and 6th in the 1000m women’s race and 22nd & 24th in the 1000m men’s race today at the World Cup Speed Skating in Berlin. Implying that the men’s sport made much more progress in the eleven years than the women’s.
So let’s compare the world records in track&field, speed skating and swimming. And then draw some quick conclusions.
Across the three disciplines women world records are a little over 7 years old while men’s records are a bit more than 3 1/2 years old.
In athletics it seems that the women’s field still suffers from the 70-ies and 80-ies doping era. It’s not just the infamous East Germany of old: the 100 and 200 meters records are Griffith-Joyner’s. Throwing out these four 1980-ies records the track&field average improves to 12 years and the women’s overall average to 5 1/2 years.
In speed skating it seems that men’s records have a lifespan a year shorter than women’s. In swimming all the records – male and female – were set this year. So I don’t know what conclusion that leads to. However, Bart compared with the 1998 Olympics in Nagano so let us indeed compare the winning times to today’s world records:
Well then! There you have it!
The women improved their times by 5.39% on average in the 11 year span and the men by 5.36%… or virtually the same margins… or well, so, the conclusion is …. everybody’s doing just fine.