Why Aren’t Young Women Entering the Motorsport Industry?

I am a young woman. I also love racing. But is it just me?

4y ago

Although recent studies suggest an increased interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, last year just 36.7% of A Level entries in this area were female. Furthermore, in 2016 it was reported that only 8% of engineers in the UK were female. While we are told that the number of girls taking these subjects is increasing, the reality I can see is that very few young women have any interest whatsoever in engineering, and particularly in motorsport. I believe that this is a great shame, as many of us know the passion, joy and excitement that racing brings to our lives.

There are some women who have a clear interest in cars and racing. Just look at the #girlpower tribe or the ladies in Dare to Be Different and you will see a small but promising group of talented, driven women looking to inspire like-minded people and help them get a foot in the door of one of the most challenging and innovative industries on Earth. However, this is still not reaching the masses. In my school, there is a relatively even spread of boys and girls taking STEM subjects, but none of the girls taking these at A Level have any inclination to enter the automotive industry.

I'd rather have an accident than fall in love – that's how much I love motor racing.

Lella Lombardi

One of the reasons why girls are not interested in motorsport is the lack of prominent female role models. A woman has not raced in a Formula One Grand Prix since Lella Lombardi in 1976, so it is no wonder that there is no inspiration for the young girls of today. Take a glance at an F1 paddock and you will see very few women, with only a handful of these occupying technical engineering roles within teams. How can we expect girls to enter motorsport when women in the field are still seen as a novelty?

However, this all stems from an issue which begins at a much earlier age. Girls are almost never encouraged to play with toy cars, and often the only ones girls are given are bought to transport their dolls in. If you type ‘toy car for girls’ into Google you are greeted with a seemingly unbreakable wall of pink, because apparently the only interest girls should have in cars is the colour. If young girls were given the same access to engineering-based toys as boys are, then surely we would have more female engineers, and as a result a whole new outlook and breadth of knowledge in the engineering sector. This would have a hugely positive impact on the economy and the advancement of human comprehension.

So, as you can see, much needs to be done to open up the glorious worlds of engineering and motorsport to women. We must remove society’s ridiculous gender stereotypes and rethink how we promote women in STEM and motorsport careers. The world must change to reflect reality.

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Comments (28)

  • Really a nice article! 👏

      4 years ago
  • Welcome Scarlett! This is a great article, thank you very much for posting it here on DriveTribe! And I really think that things would be different if more young girls were encouraged to play with toy cars, and engineering inspired toys. I also think commercials for said toys should include more girls. Young girls - and boys for that matter - doesn't necesarrily get told by their parents what toys they should chose, but I think many children get strongly influenced on what is shown to them in advertising, and the way products are presented. I think that's a problem.

      4 years ago
    • Thank you so much Helene! I agree with your comments on advertising, I get so frustrated when I see them on TV!

        4 years ago

    The fact is, men and women are different, and perhaps in the pursuit of happiness, we naturally gravitate towards different paths. Who are we to analyse natural behaviour with the objective of finding a problem? As is the way with reading a scenario through the tinted bias of one's agenda: when a problem cannot be found, it has to be invented. You can define the ratio of men-to-women in automotive industries 2 ways: you can see it as a "lack" of women, which implies the male-majority of the industries signifies some form of injustice that disadvantages women; or you can see it as a sign that more men are interested in the industries than women. The women that are interested in entering such industries get exactly the same opportunity as the men that are interested. That is simply what freedom allows, and it's not the basis to elaborate on and contort so it stands as evidence to a problem that doesn't exist.

    So, once again emphasising on the respect I conveyed at the start, I must say I'm unable to agree with your position on this topic.

    When you say that if there were more female engineers, it would have a beneficent impact on the economy and the advancement of human comprehension: how exactly would it? When you say that more female engineers would bring a new outlook and breadth of knowledge to the sector: what knowledge and outlook can women bring that men can't? When you say that we need to rethink how we promote women in motorsport careers: how are women currently promoted, what's wrong with it, and how would you change it? When you say that much needs to be done to open the worlds of motorsport and engineering to women: what exactly are the changes you propose when the doors to those worlds are already wide open to anyone who's interested in entering them? And when you say that the world must change to reflect reality: what is your definition of reality that you want your implied changes to reflect?

    And finally, I must ask: what exactly are those gender stereotypes you're referring to?

    Look forward to your response.

    All the best.

      3 years ago
    • Hi Angelo, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my article. I have read your article and your comments, and I do agree with many of the points you make. However, I think you may have taken parts of mine too literally. For example, I...

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        3 years ago
    • Thanks for your response, Scarlett, and thank you for reading my article too; I really appreciate it. Please don’t interpret my analysis as though I’m trying to silence your opinion or deny you the right to voice it; I just wanted to bring up a...

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        3 years ago
  • Great read, interesting subject. I’ve promoted to best of engineering also. If you have more engineering related articles on the way, be sure to share them in chat at drivetribe.com/t/engineering-drivetribe-JTArwXQqSL6hx1ZuMwK1-Q?iid=Da2z678nSJ2KVuQl1eMsKg

      4 years ago
    • Thank you so much! I have a great interest in engineering and would love to write some articles on the subject.

        4 years ago
  • Thank you, for this article. I liked your meritorious approach (STEM) to the issue very much. This said, I do personally connect the limited presence of women in motorsport to its being the so-called "gendered institution" or, more precisely, "gendered industry." Above all to this. Throughout decades males created the rules of motorsport - and the overall culture of motorsport - as they would enjoy it. Today it is not only the issue of a stereotype that the motorsport is not "women's business" (what ends up in having very few female F1 pilots), but in the inability of the industry to provide the most comfortable environment for women. To paraphrase: if women invented the F1 / Le Mans from the scratch, this could have been a veeeery different F1 / Le Mans compared to what we have now.

    But this is also a very long discussion. I'm not sure I have time now to start it.

    For your consideration, one of my articles on feminism. Hope you will find it worth your time: drivetribe.com/p/being-non-muscle-car-in-a-masculine-JvA8wtumRYabnIqTGLzgAg?iid=IhWxl9oVSDywO6ozjM5RQg

      4 years ago
    • Hi Ost, thank you for your thoughts on my article. I will definitely have a read of yours!

        4 years ago
    • Tell us about it! Even DriveTribe didn’t have a comfortable environment for women in the beginning. It took me being incredibly annoying for a couple of months and a few good men and women that were better with words than me to change it.


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        4 years ago