Motorsport Australia Promotes Equality for Women
Motorsport Australia Works Toward Equality
I’ve written my fair share of blogs about Motorsport Australia, but I’ve yet to write any about women in Motorsport Australia. That’s probably due to the fact that motorsport is historically male-dominated. Competitive motorsport began in 1894, but women didn’t compete until 1949 – that was only 72 years ago! It blows my mind to think that my 80-year-old grandmother was growing up in a time where she didn’t turn on her TV or read in the newspaper about women in sports. It makes me extremely grateful that I am able to watch strong women thriving in the sports world today… but that doesn’t erase the inequality that happens in sport every day.
Gender Disparities in 2021
Allow me to offer a relevant example in 2021. The March Madness NCAA Tournament in the United States is the mecca of college basketball. I have to brag that Syracuse University men’s and women’s teams both qualified this year, and the competition is underway! The NCAA has been facing backlash for the inequalities on display in the tournament. Social media photos have been released of the weight room facilities, and the difference is shocking. The men have dozens of weights, benches, and plenty of space, while the women are in a much smaller space with a singular set of weights and a stack of yoga mats. Yikes. The men were gifted at least three times more than the women. Even the food options were different.
The NCAA has since acknowledged these disparities, but it’s unbelievable that this happened in the first place! An organisation as big as the NCAA should equally represent their athletes – and all athletes should demand this minimal level of respect.
Motorsport Australia Combatting Inequalities
Motorsport Australia and motor racing, in general, is still primarily male-dominated. This is especially true for the higher races such as Formula 1 where women have not been on a starting grid since 1976. There are many organizations in place to support women in motorsport, especially in Motorsport Australia. I want to highlight some of those organizations and programs today!
1. FIA Girls on Track
FIA Girls on Track, formerly known as Dare to be Different (D2BD) is a global, nonprofit initiative spearheaded by former Formula 1 development driver Susie Wolff. The program allows girls between the ages of 8 and 18 to participate in free Girls on Track events. The goal of the program is to encourage interest and increase female participation in STEM. It uses motorsport as a tool to expose school girls to new career paths and incredible opportunities.
2. FIA Women in Motorsport Commission
Many initiatives for women in Motorsport Australia are sponsored by the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission. Their mission is to develop programs to advance female participation both on and off the track. They also strive to educate girls about the plethora of industry jobs available to them within the sport. The programs specifically offer opportunities to learn more about each job/specialty such as:
– Media workshop
– Pit stop challenges
– STEM workshop
– Event and race support
– Medical support
These are all elements and skills required to have success in motorsport. Industry roles are diverse and range from driving to navigating. The FIA Women in Motorsport Commission hope to spark change by challenging the pre-conceptions that motorsport is a male-dominated sport.
3. Ricciardo’s Racers
This fun group open to any child aged 12 to 17 is an awesome way for kids to build skills in Motorsport Australia. While it is not a group geared only towards girls, this focuses on building interest in all kids. It provides children with a safe environment to learn new skills from expert instructors. They do this through driving exercises and by teaching the basics of motorsport. Ricciardo’s Racers even organize club events for the kiddos to participate in, after they have mastered the basics!
The Importance of Exposure at a Young Age
Jess Dane, the commercial operations officer and co-owner of Triple Eight Racing, spoke about the male-dominated world of Motorsport Australia. In an interview on International Women’s Day 2020, she said, “I’m lucky enough to have been exposed from a young age and that was what seeded my passion, but I’ve had to prove that I deserve to be there. I’ve gotten over that by working hard and have carved my own path in the industry as well as encouraging young women through various projects.” She has been a vocal advocate for women and diversity in motorsport.
“Diversity is the solution to the problem and will make the world a better place,” Dane said confidently.
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