- Photo Credit: Extreme E Media Centre

Catie Munnings talks about the importance of showcasing female talent

Extreme E is showing the rest of motorsport how it's done. 😎

When Extreme E was announced, one of its biggest talking points was that it would not only require teams to have two drivers for each race that do an equal amount of the driving - but that there had to be both one male and one female driver. Now as you have probably noticed, motorsport is a pretty male dominated pastime. So whilst many applauded Extreme E's move to help integrate more female talent into mainstream motorsport, others saw it as pandering to affirmative action and trying to be 'politically correct'. But that is far from the case, as each female driver went above and beyond in proving themselves and why they deserved to be on the 2021 Extreme E.

Molly Taylor, an Aussie Rally Driver, was instrumental in Rosberg X Racing winning the Championship. Jutta Kleinschmidt proved that age doesn't matter in motorsport as long as you still have the skills behind the wheel. Laia Sanz showed that you can go from racing on two wheels to four and still get onto the podium in your first season. Christine GZ, Sara Price, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Catie Munnings all demonstrated that they all earnt their places with the teams and in Extreme E - with both Christine and Catie already confirmed to be coming back for another bite of the Extreme E apple in 2022.

These women aren't here to fill a quota or for some good publicity. They all earned their spots in Extreme E on merit - much like the twenty drivers that competed in W Series this year - and it's important that this is recognized and not shunned to one side.

I spoke with Andretti United's Catie Munnings about this following the final round of the year in Dorset:

How important has it been for Extreme E to showcase the female talent in motorsport?

"As drivers in the sport to encourage more females to join is to do a good job of it you know. We have to be role models and take that seriously within the sport and I think Extreme E has given us the perfect platform for that - and you know we have exactly the same opportunity as the males, it's in the team's interests for the females to be just as fast as the men and to have the same support around them. I think that is enough in itself for every young girl to watch. Obviously, I don't think that it is just for females - I think that motorsport in general is not that accessible. It's very expensive to get into and to have a shot at. I think this is definitely making great steps and actually showing that it is possible and hopefully lighting some flames in some young girls that watch it that didn't realize it was."

Photo Credit: Extreme E Media Centre

Photo Credit: Extreme E Media Centre

"I think just proactive steps like the rookie test that we had here. I know not all teams took part because it was in the middle of the season. But I think that for the teams who did it, it was a really cool opportunity to see how fast some of the girls are that weren't necessarily on the radar of other teams looking at the Championships. You also have the FIA rising star programme as well and I think just more of that. There's a lot of people who want to do it but can't afford it or don't know how to get into it and I think that's really the bridge that needs to be gapped. It's a tough one you know. If you don't have a family in motorsport or have some connections or some experience in it, then you're looking at doing it yourself. I mean Christine GZ in this Championship is an amazing example of that. She built her own race car and started racing and it's really inspiring to hear her story but it is tough and I think that's a really tough route in and you have to have a lot of determination to make it to the top and sometimes I think, that can be quite demotivating and how political our sport can be sometimes. But that's the area I would work on - the accessibility."

Motorsport can be cutthroat and brutal at the best of times with many talented drivers not getting what they deserve - look at the likes of Callum Ilott, Nyck de Vries and Oscar Piastri not getting seats in Formula 1 for example. So whilst the system is obviously not fixed yet, Extreme E is showing the natural, unforced way of moving things forward. It's not progress for the sake of progress. It's giving everyone an equal shot at getting into motorsport and ensuring that whoever gets through is put through their paces rigorously so that there is no doubt that they're the best person for the job.

As Catie said, it's about focusing on the accessibility of the sport so that everyone, regardless of their background, can have equal opportunities. At the end of the day, motorsport fans everywhere, be they F1 fans, Indycar fans or Extreme E fans, all want to see the best of the best go head to head in a close battle. So what does it matter what gender they are? It doesn't. As long as they are the cream of the motorsport crop, that's all that matters. Hopefully with examples such as Extreme E, W Series, the FIA Rising Star Programme and more, we can start to see this become more of the norm in motorsport.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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Comments (29)

  • I agree 100% with promoting women and other undermined groups into higher areas. I still believe that the main issue in motorsport is money though. I feel like if that was less of a factor more people from more diverse backgrounds couod make it to the top.

      5 days ago
    • i don't think it's possible to remove the money factor, considering it's the most important factor,lol.

        5 days ago
    • Money is definitely a huge issue and it's something that things like W Series, Formula Woman and the Hamilton Comission are trying to find ways of combating to level the playing field. Definitely agree with you that if that was less of an...

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        5 days ago
  • Anything and everything should be done to level the field to enable equal opportunities at all levels of motorsport - I think it is quite sad that despite supposed progress in many areas, women are still being disadvantaged in sport

      5 days ago
  • Please can you create an article with a lot of stats (timesheets) from Extreme E so we can compare the drivers?

    If a woman beats Loeb I promise to try to watch a race

      5 days ago
  • We named our daughter Ariane after the Rocket because we want her to be inspired by science, maths and engineering. We want her to believe that she can do whatever she wants to do.

    Those who don't have kids may not know that theres another string to Catie's bow on this front. She presents a show on CBeebies called "Catie's Amazing Machines" which has been followed up with "Grace's Amazing Machines" featuring Grace Webb who is also now on 5th Gear. Each episode features 3 amazing machines which Catie or Grace demonstrate on the show. They've had fire engines, boats, helicopters and Catie thrashing a McLaren P1 around their race track.

    Our Daughter having such a fantastic role model in Catie and Grace is fantastic.

      5 days ago
  • Why don’t they mix men and women in F1? I totally get why they do it in other sports like running and football ect, because men are naturally more strong, and taller than women, thats not sexism thats just basic biology. I know that fitness is very important in F1 but surely it shouldn’t make as much of a difference than in other sports so they should be able to mix right? If im wrong then id like to hear why. I dont know much about F1 anyway ill admit.

      5 days ago
    • There isn't really a reason as far as I can tell. Just a lack of opportunities for women for a number of reasons which is why things like W Series exist to try and showcase more female talent and give them the opportunities they deserve. As a...

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        5 days ago
    • F1 isn't technically gendered,I think it's just that motorsport is so male dominated that it always ends up being men on the grid

        4 days ago