I've put on races with equal payout for men and women. I have gotten zero
complaints for doing so, ever. We actually got so much support from
sponsors that I was giving out swag to people who showed up to watch the
awards handout, I couldn't give out everything.
If I separated out red headed guys into their own race and paid them less
in prize money because there were fewer entries, they'd have my head. I'm
not going to do that to women just because they're women.
This ain't taxes. It's equality.
I think it is great that you have taken the effort to promote some races. I also think it is great that you have chosen to give equal prize purses to men and women.
I assume in your races that you did separate out the cat 5s (proverbial red headed guys) from the Cat 1/2s and you provided them with less prize money? How do you reconcile that with your definition of "equality". Did you pay the cat 1/2/3 masters less than the open 1/2/3, is that fair and equal?
We (as OBRA) have already decided that men and women should race in separate fields, so we have already agreed that men and women are not equal. Likewise, within genders we have already to group people based on ability and/or age and provide lesser prizes (in most cases for older and lower ability), so in yet another respect we do not treat all the riders equally. It is not a perfect system, but I think it is reasonable and I think the race in question is applying a reasonable standard for prizing that is within the spectrum of what can be considered "fair and equitable". In short, we are already playing on the slippery "separate but equal" slope, which means it is basically going to be impossible to come up with a definition that everyone can agree is fair.
My primary point being is that I think there is a range of reasonable ways to define equality, including as you have chosen to do in your races, to provide absolutely equal payouts. However, I don't think there is any completely objective basis to say that equality has to mean equal payouts and adjusting payout ratios based on being representative of who actually registers is somehow "unequal" and needs legislation (new OBRA rules) to mandate how the prizes are divided up. I think the promoters who take the time to produce these races for us should be provided the opportunity to make reasonable decisions on how to maximize the success of their their event and we need to recognize there is not always one "right" answer. A rule that is not going to help increase ridership or increase the number of events may be taking a tin ear to the most significant issues facing OBRA right now, if anything we are lucky that any races are providing cash prizes to anyone (Kings Valley historically has one of the most generous prize purses on the calendar).
I will also observe that in the past couple of years several races have given extra prizes to certain female categories (Corvallis Cross Classic comes to mind.). I have no issue with this, but if people are advocating for new rules to make sure every promoter uses the same definition of equal, this type of attempt to attract more women would probably have to be disallowed because it isn't fair unless each male and female category gets exactly the same prizes.