According to a report on National Public Radio, four elite female athletes have created a petition to ask the Tour de France to include women next year.

Citing the inclusion of women at the world’s top marathons, the petition’s authors say “After a century, it is about time women are allowed to race the Tour de France, too”.

The petition was begun by Kathryn Bertine, an American cyclist and journalist, along with Olympic and world champion Marianne Vos of the Netherlands and world champion Emma Pooley of Britain, as well as British triathlete Chrissie Wellington, a four-time World Ironman Champion.

“In the late 1960s people assumed that women couldn’t run the marathon. 30 years on we can look back and see how erroneous this was. Hopefully 30 years from now, we will see 2014 as the year that opened people’s eyes to true equality in the sport of cycling.”

– The petition

Her course

The gender divide is narrowing in many ways and in many markets, but differences still exist. And companies and individuals alike are doing more to even the playing field. We’re seeing businesses set new quotas for women on staff and in management, companies that are actively targeting female customers, and services introduced just for women.

And when it comes to the world of sports, more women are breaking into traditionally male-dominated arenas and female sports fans are more common than ever.

According to Mintel’s Marketing to Sports Fans US March 2013 report, 16% of consumers are super fans (defined as those who participate in between six and 11 sports-related events per year, watch sports on TV and attend live sporting events): 20% of males and 13% of females fall into that category. Further 29% of male consumers are moderate fans compared to 21% of female consumers.

Because women are watching sports and engaging in spectator sports with a frequency approaching that of their male counterparts, networks and sports associations would do well to expand coverage of female sports and consider developing women’s counterparts in events like the Tour de France. Increased attention to women’s sports is bound to lead to increased engagement from female fans around the world as well as increased patronage of sponsoring brands.

This is an observation from our Inspire trend The Unfairer which looks at how the gender gap and the ways in which women are coming together to challenge and change the status quo. For more information about Inspire click here.