The growth of professional bodybuilding women has been a slow climb to the top. The reason for this is that bodybuilding was defined from its very early days as a predominantly male sport. If you look at the photographs of those who were prominent in the profession from the 1940s through the 1970s, the number of bodybuilding women is zero.
(The only ‘masculine’ sport that women seemed to receive any acclaim for during the era was on the old Roller Derby circuit) However, the role of women in the professional ranks of bodybuilding has increased exponentially in the last 20 years.
In the 1980s, the health industry saw a great rise in popularity. With gyms popping up on every street, the accessibility to become involved in bodybuilding was greatly expanded. As such, many women started to take up weight training as a hobby. In time, more competitive individuals emerged and professional bodybuilding women started to emerge on the bodybuilding circuit.
This phenomenon was examined in the excellent documentary PUMPING IRON 2, the obvious sequel to the landmark 1976 documentary PUMPING IRON. Much like the first film which centered on the (then) relatively unknown world of professional bodybuilding, PUMPING IRON 2 provided a unique insight into the realm of bodybuilding women professionals.
From the success of this documentary, much recognition and respect were according to the female practitioners who have labored in the shadow of their more popular male counterparts for far too long.
Today, the bodybuilding women professional circuit continues to grow and gain in popularity. While it has not achieved the same level of popularity as the men’s circuit, it has strongly gained popularity to a degree far greater than what existed three decades ago. Hopefully, this growth will continue and the world of bodybuilding women professional circuit will thrive and prosper.