In the early years of the sport of mountain biking, women raced alongside men, and were often quite competitive, as demonstrated by athletes such as Jacquie Phelan. Men and women both enjoyed the same challenges and amenities of racing. Though men signficantly outnumbered women in such races, women enjoyed the egalitarian environment of early mountain biking culture.

Over time, the genders were separated in racing and inequalities in representation, exposure, and prizes ensued. Advertisers reinforced dominant gender stereotypes and worked toward the representing mountain biking as a male-dominated sport.