#WIMM Q+A 5 - representation of women as drivers, fans and teams
(30/11/20) For #WomenInMotorsportMonth, I'm talking to women in the sport - fans and professionals - and asking them key questions to celebrate our past, assess our present, and consider the future.
For the final #WIMM Q+A, I spoke to three women about the three categories of people in motorsport - fans, drivers and staff.
Do you think we already know the name of the first female F1 driver of the modern era? (Have we already heard of her)
We probably have heard of them, we just don't know it yet! In my opinion I really think the first female F1 driver will be Jamie Chadwick, or at least first British female F1 driver. I remember her racing alongside her brother in Ginetta juniors and followed her up through the ranks. She has impressed us so far in GT racing and with her making the switch last year to the single seaters (W Series to name one) and her role at Williams as a development driver, I think it puts her in good stead to make a leap forward onto the F1 grid. Perhaps Jamie may get there in a few years, she's registered her interest alongside some big offroad names, and is competing in Extreme E from next year.
How did you get interested in motorsport? Do you think a lot of female fans become interested in the same way?
I’ve been into motorsport pretty much since birth. My dad and uncle are hobby racers themselves, so it was normal for me to be on circuits or around cars. I don’t think I would have the same passion for it if it wasn’t for them. If I look around me the one girl that only likes F1/cars is because of her stepdad. One other sometimes watches F1 if Max Verstappen is doing well, but if he DNFs, the TV gets turned off. In Holland, you can really see the difference since Max started racing. Motorsport never got shown on TV or talked about here, but this changed when Max came to F1. I believe that this also gives people, especially girls, the access to motorsport. So I do think that girls often become fans because of the people around them, not because they became interested on their own.
What’s the situation with female representation in engineering? Is it worse than other F1 sectors?
My experience would suggest that female representation is strong! It’s much stronger than what I expected before I started. Within my department, we have a female department manager and several female aerodynamicists. Looking at the wider engineering team, the ratio is still hugely skewed towards men, but the women that are there are in pretty substantial roles within departments like structural, etc. I would say the department with the largest female presence is HR and then maybe the media team. Project engineering also has quite a strong female presence. Sadly, there are few women in labour intensive jobs such as car assembly or part production.