What is the biggest way in which misogyny presents itself right now? #WIMM
Updated: Nov 30, 2021
Misogyny is a defining factor to the experiences of so many women in motorsport, and it can present itself in a number of ways. Sometimes gender-based discrimination impacts the structures around us in more implicit ways, but sometimes it is also very explicit: the attitudes, words and actions of others demonstrate how deep the prejudice against women is in motorsport.
I asked some of the leading women in the online community about how misogyny presents itself across motorsport for #WomenInMotorsportMonth.
“There is a huge stigma against women working in what is typically seen as a 'man's thing', and there is also a ‘lad's culture’ that surrounds it. I think people often don’t realise or pick up on this culture; it’s seen as normal for the motorsport environment.”
“The biggest problem is gender inequality, and the lack of representation of women. Racing is also generally seen as a ‘man’s sport’, and these gender roles, combined with a lack of representation of women in this field as drivers, engineers, etc, discourages many young girls from even considering motorsport as a career path.”
“People’s attitudes towards women in motorsport is a huge problem. There’s so many things that you can mention in regards to that: those who think that women are only interested in motorsports for the men; those who think girls are physically not able to compete in motorsport; girls not being encouraged into pursuing STEM subjects. It really does originate in education, because a lot of girls are encouraged to take more traditionally ‘feminine’ subjects. For instance, I was never encouraged to try engineering.”
“There is an outdated stereotype that a woman's place isn't in the STEM industry, let alone in motorsport, and there are microaggressions from primary school onwards; girls are directed towards dance, English, and drama whereas boys are directed towards maths, science, and cars. This plays into the gender roles that keep women away from the sport.”
“Education is the beginning of what we do, and it can shape who we are for the rest of our lives. If we encourage young women to pursue the paths they want and provide them the support to do so, then we can change this sport for the better; if we allow these gender roles to be reinforced, then we fall at the first hurdle when it comes to making change.”
“I think the biggest barrier to the progression of women in motorsport right now is generally split between cultural factors and socioeconomic barriers - people fail to understand the amount of social pressures that block women from motorsport.
There's a phenomena psychologists are calling the 'dream gap', to describe the point in a young girl's life where they stop dreaming big due to social constructions. Young girls are held up from living to their full potential because starting at age 4 social constructions are telling them they are less capable than men.
Starting at ages 4 and 5, many girls begin developing self-limiting beliefs and begin to think they are not as smart and capable as boys. They stop believing they can be anything. Furthermore, early indicators have shown that for BIPOC girls, the impact is even more detrimental.“
Attitudes are obviously a huge problem, and everyone mentions how harmful these attitudes can be. The assumption that men naturally inhabit motorsport, even if this attitude isn’t designed to be harmful, makes sure that work to include women is an uphill battle. It means that men see the lack of representation as normal and natural, which means that there isn't an active effort to include more women, or change the attitudes of people within the sport.
Jodie @formulawah on Twitter; “I would like to work in the media side of F1”
Charlotte @purplesector50, @fseries__, @charlotte_lines on Twitter; “I am a social media content creator for PlanetF1 and want to work for a motorsports team.”
Alice @alicewheels on Twitter; “I am an aspiring race engineer”
Elodie @ElodieGP on Instagram; “I aspire and am working towards a role in motorsports (not necessarily F1) as a journalist or working with digital media.”
Giota @seimeiseb on Twitter; “I want to be a race strategist”
Grace @gwaceb on TikTok; “I am just a fan!”