Rowing is a sport that has been around for centuries, and while it may not be as mainstream as basketball or football, it still has a strong following. One question that often comes up when discussing rowing is whether or not it is a male-dominated sport. In this article, we will explore this topic and look at the statistics to see if this stereotype holds true.

History of Rowing

Rowing has a long and storied history, dating back to ancient times when it was used as a means of transportation and military strategy. In modern times, rowing has become a popular sport, especially in countries like the United States, Great Britain, and Australia.

Rowing and Gender

While rowing is generally perceived as a male-dominated sport, the truth is that women have been competing in rowing for over a century. The first women’s rowing club was established in England in 1895, and women’s rowing became an Olympic sport in 1976.


According to data from USRowing, the national governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States, there are currently more male rowers than female rowers. In 2020, there were 34,150 registered male rowers compared to 27,139 registered female rowers. However, this gap is closing, as the number of female rowers has grown by over 13% in the last decade.

Professional Rowing

In professional rowing, men and women compete separately, but the events are generally seen as equal. In fact, women’s rowing has gained recognition in recent years, with some of the top female rowers becoming household names. For example, Helen Glover from Great Britain won gold in the women’s rowing event at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

Collegiate Rowing

In collegiate rowing, both men and women compete at the same level, and the events are generally seen as equal. However, there is still a gap in the number of male and female rowers at the collegiate level. According to data from the NCAA, there were 5,644 male rowers and 4,669 female rowers in 2020.

Why the Gap?

There are many theories as to why rowing is perceived as a male-dominated sport. One possibility is that the physical demands of rowing are seen as more suited to men, who tend to have greater upper body strength. Another possibility is that there is simply a lack of exposure for women’s rowing, which can lead to a lack of interest and participation.


While rowing may have a greater number of male participants than female participants, it is clear that women have been an integral part of the sport for many years. As the number of female rowers continues to grow, it is likely that we will see a more equal distribution of male and female participants in the future. Rowing is a challenging and rewarding sport that anyone can enjoy, regardless of gender.