An NIH study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine in 2010 concluded that the gender gap between men and women in sports performance has “not evolved since 1983…[suggesting] that women will not run, jump, swim or ride as fast as men.” In short, the study concludes that “sex is a major factor influencing best performances and world records.”
The study analyzes the evolution of male and female Olympians’ performance by examining “82 quantifiable events since the beginning of the Olympic era.” It also looked at the “best performance of the top 10 performers in each gender for swimming and athletics.” Essentially, the researchers found that around the early 1980s, despite the growing trend of women’s participation in sports, the gender gap performance trend between men and women began to “stabilize.”
“It appears that gender gaps in sport performance have been stable for a long time: women may never catch up with men. This stabilization of 26 years is the expression of a significant drop in the variation of these gaps’ magnitude. After a significant narrowing of gender gaps, women and men now evolve in parallel, in the same direction. The late implication of women in competition, their increasing participation, as well as the individual doping behaviours and state programs for performance enhancement may all have had a historical role but no longer reduce the gap. Without any technological improvement specifically dedicated to one gender or the other, performances will probably evolve in a similar manner for both men and women. The gap may be set.”
The Biden administration plans to buck the science of gender-based sports performance data with his January executive order.