Always In Motion

OCWW Special: Empowering Women in Cycling – SeeWhatSheCanDo

Creates a Space for Active and Sport-Loving Women

Caroline Wiley recognized the need for a dedicated platform where active and sport-loving women could find stories, communities, businesses, and resources to support their athletic pursuits. Not finding such a place, she took matters into her own hands and built SeeWhatSheCanDo (SWSCD). This online portal aims to empower women in cycling and various other sports by providing access to an extensive athletic directory of approximately 60,000 listings and over 67 activity pages showcasing local events and opportunities. It goes beyond being just an “A-Z of sports” and becomes a powerful tool for women.

SWSCD features a vibrant community hub where women can join, create groups, and organize events based on their location. Whether it’s beach bike rides, pickleball, or activities with their dogs, the platform fosters connections and encourages participation. In addition to this, the website includes a section dedicated to news coverage of women’s sports and an Athlete Advisor Directory, highlighting businesses and organizations that are committed to investing in women. By utilizing technology and community engagement, SWSCD aims to inspire and empower women, demonstrating that there are no limits to what they can achieve.

Caroline Wiley’s journey began during her time as a graduate student at the University of Waterloo, where she explored the concept of “enduring involvement” through a gender lens. She discovered that women often gather information and seek a sense of belonging before making decisions to participate in sports. Wiley also recognized the influential role of mass media in shaping women’s perceptions of their abilities. Despite nearly three decades passing, the representation of women in sports media remains a significant issue. As someone who grew up being told that she couldn’t play hockey because she was a girl, Wiley understands the impact this lack of representation has on women’s self-perception, especially those over 30. Moreover, as a mother of two active university-aged daughters, she has witnessed firsthand how mainstream media continues to shape young women’s views on what is possible in the world of sport.

Through SeeWhatSheCanDo, Wiley aims to counter these narratives and provide a platform where women can see themselves represented at every stage of life, regardless of their beliefs or identities. The website features diverse photos, articles, and other media that reflect the experiences and achievements of women, creating a sense of belonging for all users. Having personally experienced the challenges of moving to a new community without knowing anyone, Wiley envisioned SWSCD as the support system she wished she had during those transitions. The platform aims to provide a sense of belonging and foster connections, helping women overcome the barriers they may face when entering new environments.

One of the key features of SWSCD is its ability to share positive stories about active women. Wiley herself recounts the story of meeting her co-founder, Tina Finelli, while both were learning to play ice hockey for the first time. Finelli, in her forties, defied societal expectations and embraced the power of sport. Wiley believes that age should never limit anyone’s ability to learn and experience the transformative power of sports. Another inspiring story she shares is about interviewing a para-ice hockey team consisting of women in 2018. Despite physical limitations, over 90 percent of women in similar circumstances do not engage in sports. However, these women sought exercise, new connections, and enjoyment through para-ice hockey. Wiley was later invited to play with the team, and she found it to be one of the most challenging sports she had ever played.

These stories serve as powerful examples of what is possible when women embrace their athletic potential. Wiley believes that storytelling can move mountains and inspire action in big and small ways. Through SeeWhatSheCanDo, she strives to harness the power of storytelling to empower women, encouraging them to push their boundaries and redefine their limitations.

By providing a space for active and sport-loving women, SeeWhatSheCanDo is revolutionizing the way women engage with cycling and other sports. Caroline Wiley’s vision and dedication to empowering women in sports are creating a community that encourages inclusivity, representation, and personal growth. Through SWSCD, women can explore their passions, connect with others, and realize their full potential in the world of cycling and beyond.

Editor’s Note: This story of SeeWhatSheCanDo was originally written by Jenna Braun and published for the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Health’s 2023 Spring Edition of their Health Hub Newsletter

Photo by: Zac Jolliffe