Why Aren’t Young Women Entering the Motorsport Industry?
I am a young woman. I also love racing. But is it just me?
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.
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.