Women breaking barriers
The history of the London Marathon spans more than 40 years. It covers a period that saw women breaking barriers in sport and many other fields such as business, science and technology, and politics.
When the London Marathon was first run in 1981, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had shattered the ultimate glass ceiling, sending a message that women could achieve roles previously closed off to them.
The inaugural London Marathon was much smaller than today’s event. Back in 1981, just over 6,000 runners started the race, and only 350 were women.
Fast forward 42 years, and the profile of women in running — and in broader society — has changed dramatically.
Writing the history of running
History will be made on the starting line of the 2023 TCS London Marathon, with what is being billed as the strongest line-up of female athletes ever to take part in a marathon.
The women’s race sees the superstars of distance running coming to London to compete for glory. Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw will defend her title against marathon world record holder Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei. Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya will also mount a strong challenge.
“This is quite simply the greatest women’s field ever assembled for a marathon,” said Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the TCS London Marathon. “Arguably the greatest field ever assembled for a women’s distance race.”
Building on one’s belief
The stellar women’s elite field will provide inspiration for the more than 20,000 female runners taking part in this year’s event.
London leads the way in women’s participation accounting for almost 42% of all participants in the TCS London Marathon last year, compared to a global average of almost 35%.
For many runners, participation is about building on belief and fostering aspiration rather than a specific finishing time. The number of female runners aged 50 and older who finish the TCS London Marathon has increased by 65% since 2018.
Behind the scenes of one of the world’s greatest marathons is a huge technology operation to support the runners and their supporters. At TCS, we have long been part of the conversation around the inclusion and representation of women in technology.
Central to this is our belief that technology has the power to fine-tune the balance between tradition and change in a way that is empowering millions of women.
We draw inspiration from sport and from all around us — from women who took the first steps to those who are now paving the way for others and embracing all the opportunities that have been unlocked.
This year’s TCS London Marathon underscores how far women have come and is a celebration of their success. Women are working behind the scenes of the race as well as leading the charge on the course. For example, Associate Consultant Gowri Prabhu has played a leading role in the development of the Official TCS London Marathon app.
These are just a few examples of the benefits of raising the profile of female role models. Women working across the technology sector are showing other women and young girls that a career in STEM is achievable and fulfilling, opening doors that once seemed closed and breaking down barriers for an empowered future.
Out on the TCS London Marathon course this year, the elite female athletes and the thousands of amateur women runners following in their footsteps will undoubtedly inspire future generations to push themselves to new heights in sport and other areas of their lives.