Women in F1
17th August 2011, 12:00 at 12:00 pm #129937
This isn’t really my thread as I saw a discussion on Twitter and decided that it could make a nice discussion on here. Why in this day and age are there still so few women in F1? They’re mostly either gridgirls or journalists. There don’t seem to be that many on the engineering side (correct me if I’m wrong) and we haven’t had a decent female racer for God knows how long now. So why is it still so hard for women to get into F1 or is it not as much of a problem as I’m making out?17th August 2011, 12:55 at 12:55 pm #176615
Good question. To be honest I don’t know that much about the gender divide in F1 but I guess it all starts with having an initial interest in the sport. As with many forms of sport it seems to be men who primarily ‘enjoy’ it (coming from my own assumption, nothing to back that up with) and I guess this feeds through right into the sport itself?
Now whether or not there are women hitting a brick wall when trying to get involved is a problem. I can’t see that being the case. F1 has had women drivers in the past as you said and if they could get a seat then i’m sure they would get a seat now, i’d like to think we haven’t become less liberal over time!17th August 2011, 13:00 at 1:00 pm #176616
As Zadak once said…
Way more boys want to be F1 drivers when they are little. The talent pool is generally smaller for girls.
Not to say Talent isn’t there at all. The American girl racers manage to race competitively. The last decent female driver in F1 was in the 70s (Lella Lombardi)
Dorothy Levitte was a great driver all the way back in 1908 so I don’t think it’s all outright sexism from the past.
One driver to keep an eye on though is Alice Powell, she won a junior Formula Renault series, and I’m sure she’s destined for great things.
As for women elswhere in F1, there seems to be alot of them in the buisness, not so many in the engineering side. But again it’s a case of less girls to choose from.
I did an engineering course a while ago and out of 20 student only 2 were girls. It’s only that there aren’t as many girls who aspire to F1.
As for the grid girls, I dislike the way that it looks like outright sexism, but it’s much prettier than having men holding up the drivers’ numbers. Walking through the clapping girls is totally unnecessary.17th August 2011, 13:28 at 1:28 pm #176617
I highly doubt that on the professional side of things that there is much if any discrimination- teams couldn’t get away with it these days. So I’d imagine it is simple gender traits that prevent more women from having an interest in engineering or F1 in general. I study engineering at uni and there are hardly any girls, and also outside uni a lot more of my male-friends like F1 than female-friends. As much less girls are interested there will be a proportionately small percentage involved in F1- unless teams hire people as diverse as possible to intentionally include more women, which would actually be discrimination against men.
As for drivers, that is one area where perhaps discrimination might exist, but I doubt that is as likely as it used to be. Again there must be a lot less women racing, and because of that small number the chances of there being one good enough for F1 becomes slimmer.17th August 2011, 18:27 at 6:27 pm #176618
The next female F1 racer imo is going to have to be good. If she comes into F1 but seems out of her depth then it might just end up with people saying that she’s only there to fill a quota or that women just aren’t cut out (obviously plenty of people won’t believe that rubbish but I’m talking about those who still hold the view there’s no place for women in the sport).
Andrew, I read a piece by James Allen a good few months back and he said there were plenty of girls who raced in karts and many were highly competitive but for some reason that just couldn’t or didn’t progress despite showing a good bit of talent. There was a similar article he did about women in engineering that read along the same lines that at a ground level there were plenty of females involved who were bright and talented but the higher up the chain they fizzled away but why is there this trend?17th August 2011, 18:50 at 6:50 pm #176619
There are a few up and coming female Karting condenders. I suppose it’s just a matter of time17th August 2011, 19:02 at 7:02 pm #176620
I’m sure there’s a joke about being good at driving people around the bend somewhere in there…
I think it’s simply a case of no-one really being around to be picked. I don’t think whatever it is that’s hampering women in other fields is translating into the driving side of things, for one a fast woman would be a sponsor’s wet…I mean, they’d love to sponsor her. Look at Danica Patrick and she’s not even that good.17th August 2011, 19:12 at 7:12 pm #176621
As Zadak once said…
I would say that Danica Patrick is pretty good, she finished 5th in the 2009 Indycar season, and those cars are all the same, she has slipped down the ladder since then.17th August 2011, 19:16 at 7:16 pm #176622
Yeah, Danica Patrick is pretty rubbish. I suppose she’s won an Indy Car race though, so she has a veneer of respectability. Do any of the other female Indy Car drivers get a similarly disproportionate amount of attention?17th August 2011, 19:18 at 7:18 pm #176623
“There was a similar article he did about women in engineering that read along the same lines that at a ground level there were plenty of females involved who were bright and talented but the higher up the chain they fizzled away but why is there this trend?”
Like I said, in terms of students in engineering I see a very low percentage of women and in terms of all the students interested in F1/motorsport I reckon that percentage falls even lower.17th August 2011, 23:10 at 11:10 pm #176624
As Zadak once said…
Compared to the other mid grid runners, they are still a novelty, so they do get more attention.18th August 2011, 0:36 at 12:36 am #176625
As Polishboy808 once said…
I think any discrimination against Woman Drivers in racing is only in F1. There are Woman drivers, but they just compete in different disciplines. We have Simona de Silvestro in Indy, who on a good day can beat many of the guys. Danica Patrick who is slowly declining but is still pretty good. Claudia Hurtgen drives the BMW Z4 GT3, who is very talented, and there are plenty of drivers in the Junior Formulae and Karting. I think that it’ll take another 10 years for a Woman F1 driver, but when she does join, she’ll have to be very good.18th August 2011, 3:25 at 3:25 am #176626
Do any of the other female Indy Car drivers get a similarly disproportionate amount of attention?
We don’t really get coverage of Indycar here in Australia, but I don’t think the other girls get more coverage than they really warrant. Aside from Patrick, there’s only really three other women in Indycar at the moment – Simon de Silvestro, Ana Beatriz and Pippa Mann (who is only doing a four-race campaign). And of the four women, Patrick is 12th in the championship, de Silvestro is 20th, Beatriz is 22nd and Mann is 37th.
I don’t think any of them could reasonably move over. Danica Patrick is doing both Indycar and NASCAR this year, and all her best results are coming on oval circuits. She really struggles on road courses. On the other hand, Simona de Silvestro’s best results come on road courses, but she is a little prone to crashing out. Ana Beatriz is all over the place; she has both good and bad results at ovals and road courses. As for Pippa Mann, she’s only doing a limited-run campaign, sso it’s a little hard to judge.
If one of these women were to move to Formula 1, they’d probably have to spend a season in GP2 first – but this would be a step down. They’re all already in Indycar, which is the highest-ranked series in American open-wheel racing. Going to GP2 would be like going backwards for them, even if GP2 and Indycar are very similar because they are both spec series. It would be their best opportunity to break into Formula 1. But, as has been said, they would be held to a much higher standard than male drivers, simply because the future of women in Formula 1 would rest on their shoulders.18th August 2011, 5:00 at 5:00 am #176627
I personally put it down to differences between men and women, what the reason is I have no idea.
But in my own field of electronics engineering I was an instructor for an international, but mainly European, organisation, for 4 years. We did six, eight week courses/year, with 12 students/course. In that time I had one (1) female student. I must also add that the equipment being used could easily be handled by a 10yr old, the only “dangerous” element was using step ladders to get to the top of 10ft (3m) high racks. And the highest voltages that could be encountered was ~400V DC inside the enclosed power supplies (similar to those found in a computer PSU).18th August 2011, 8:22 at 8:22 am #176628
@w-k I would say your observation shows exactly where the problem is. Its not about being physically (or mentally) able to do it. Most of it is in our heads, as in social/culturally dependant conditioning. Making us think girls cant do technical things and racing is seen as one of those.
Only it takes a long time to change these perceptions, and then you get more girls trying it out and more good ones can get picked up and rise to the top. I find it encouraging to see there is a bit of a change going on, after all when did we ever have 4 female drivers in a top championship. Not to mention the ones slowly getting into in GT, DTM, etc.
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