How can motorsport accelerate gender equality?

March 4, 2022
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Samuel Bailey explores how motorsports can create opportunities for women and #BreakTheBias

“The great thing about W Series is that you know that every driver underneath those helmets is female.” – Jamie Chadwick, 2-time W Series Champion.

 International Women’s Day focusses this year on breaking the stereotypes that typically limit and prevent women from being valued, heard and appreciated equally to men.

In spite of the tireless work going into breaking this bias, in so many industries, inherent and traditionalist stereotypes still persist.

As March comes around, with it comes the 2022 Formula One season. Motorsport as a whole, along with many sports, has a long way to come for gender equality, but several elements of the industry are making steady steps in the right direction.

Driving, for as long as it has existed, has been male dominated. As a result mechanics, engineering, and ultimately the emergence of driving as a sport became entirely dominated by men.

Only two women in history have ever successfully entered and qualified to race in a Formula One GP, and Lella Lombardi is the only woman to ever score any points.

Well you may be asking, where’s the tech angle?

Motorsport has become a supreme industry for technical innovation. With Formula E emerging the first motorsport championship made up entirely of electric cars, and Extreme E using electric SUV’s in a series of challenging off-road races, motorsport is married to the tech industry. Not to mention the unparalleled tech advancements Formula One has seen in data collection and analysis alone in the last decade.

The tech industry is taking steps towards gender inclusion, so why is it that there hasn’t been a female driver in a Formula One seat since1976?

2019 saw the inaugural W Series championship, a sector of motorsport solely for female drivers. The W Series have since driven a second season in 2021, both of which were won by Brit and Williams Formula One Racing Development Driver, Jamie Chadwick.

A designated women’s series

Having a designated women’s series is a huge step for motorsport, and no doubt triggered the emergence of the first Extreme E season in 2021, of which comprises of a team of one male and one female driver.

The integration of women into high-level motorsport highlights what we all know to be true; that driving is not an exclusively male sport. It is a team sport, and not only do we need to see more women in the driver’s seat but engineers, pit crew, data analysts and trainers. 2012 saw the first female Team Principal of Sauber F1 Team, Monisha Kaltenborn, and until recently Claire Williams, Team Principal of Williams Racing.

Women still have limited roles in motorsport

In the grand scheme of things in spite of the W Series and half of Extreme E, women still have limited roles in motorsport, and like many other women’s sports, are not granted the same airtime as their male counterparts.

In light of this year’s International Women’s Day, motorsport, as well as all other industries, needs to work harder to #breakthebias that exists between male and female racing abilities and understand there is much value to be had by bringing women to the forefront of top-level motorsport.

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