The body size and composition differences between men and women are set by genetic factors with relatively constant offsets, particularly in homogeneous athletic populations. However, performance differences between the sexes appear to be more variable, potentially due to the mechanical demands of different events. Here, we set out to analyse the sex performance differences across sprint running events that differ in mechanical demands due to race length. Based on the scaling of tissue areas in relation to body mass, shorter, smaller athletes should be more forceful per kg body mass than larger ones. Greater force per kg body mass capabilities should be most advantageous during the acceleration portion of any race. Therefore, we hypothesized that the shorter sex, would fare relatively better in shorter vs longer races. We tested this by gathering performance, height and mass data from open sources on the top 40 performers in the 60, 100, 200 and 400 meter races over a 15 year period. As hypothesized, the shorter the sprint race, the smaller the male-female performance difference. These differences ranged from 8.6% at 60 m to 10.9% at 400 m. We conclude that male-female performance differences appear to be smaller for accelerated vs. steady-speed running.
McClelland, Emily and Weyand, Peter
"Cutting Sex-Performance Differences Down to Size: Are Females Closer to Males in Shorter Sprint Races?,"
ISBS Proceedings Archive: Vol. 39:
1, Article 90.
Available at: https://commons.nmu.edu/isbs/vol39/iss1/90