From football to golf, motorsports to American football, sport is a significant aspect to everyone’s culture, with viewing figures and prize funds that’s on offer being huge. For example, Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United sees him pick up a weekly wage of £391,000, plus £75,000 if he starts a game. Elsewhere, the winner of golf’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November can take home $3 million.
Many sports are still considered to be heavily male dominant, due to the physical nature of some of them. While there are female teams available, the publicity and earning potential is nowhere near at the same level in many cases. Although viewing figures are rising, there’s still a long way to go to match the male equivalent. In the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015, held in Canada, viewing figures surged, with 2.4 million tuning in to see England lose to France. However, compare this to the 26.5 million viewers for England’s male team losing in the 2018 World Cup semi-final to Croatia.
In contrary to the idea of Darts being stereotypically known as an all-male sport, the Darts world championships at Alexandra Palace in December welcomed women competitors, showing the integration of women in sport is becoming more apparent. Motorsports have also been a very male-dominated world, especially in Formula 1 and 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, that prominence could be starting to even out.
The Revolutionary W series
This is a women-only series commencing this year, ultimately being the driving force behind a revolution in the motorsport world. It’s been backed by some of Formula 1’s biggest names, including former champion David Coulthard and Red Bull’s design chief Adrian Newey.
One person who believes that women aren’t (and shouldn’t be) inferior in the sport is Newey, he himself has deigned several of the vehicles that have went on to win F1 Championships. He stated: “I believe the reason why so few women have so far raced successfully at the highest levels against men is a lack of opportunity rather than a lack of capability.”
The long run goal of the W series is to help both men and women perform on an equal scale in Formula 1, providing the opportunity to do so is given. The six-race championship pits up to 20 of the world’s top female racing drivers against each other in identical cars. President of the Women in Motorsport Commission for governing body the FIA, Michèle Mouton, also backs the series, believing that it will allow a platform to be created to help propel women into the male-dominated competitions.
The history of women test drivers
Since the inception of women in Formula 1 in the 1950s only 5 female drivers have entered the race. However, there has been several test drivers. Williams signed Susie Wolff as a test driver for their vehicles in 2012, for instance, showing a willingness to get females involved in the predominantly male environment. She became the first female driver in 22 years to participate in a race weekend, when she took part in the first practice session at Silverstone. Williams later appointed Colombia’s Tatiana Calderón as a development driver for 2017, who went on to be promoted to test driver.
Since then, Wolf has launched a programme at grassroots level to help with the promotion of female drivers. Williams later appointed Colombia’s Tatiana Calderón as a development driver for 2017, who went on to be promoted to test driver.
As for Formula 3…
It is still heavily male dominated, as for its counterpart F1. However, in August 2018, Jamie Chadwick became the first woman to win a British F3 race. It sees her added to a prestigious list of winners, which also includes Mika Häkkinen and Ayrton Senna. However, while Chadwick admits that she has sometimes struggled with the G-force and weight of steering, she says that this can’t be used as an excuse for females not to perform well in the sport.
She pointed out: “I just want to prove it’s possible. I know when I drive my best, there is nothing stopping me from being one of the best and there is no reason why there wouldn’t be the same case for girls coming through in karting to get the same opportunity in F3.”
And the Pit team…
There has been an increasing number of females in the Pit teams in recent years. In NASCAR, two female tyre changers made history in February by becoming the first female pit crew members in the Daytona 500 as part of the Drive for Diversity project. This follows the McLaren team in F1 organising an all-female pit stop in July 2017’s Austrian Grand Prix.
The 24 Hour Daytona event
For the 24 hour Daytona event that took place in 2018, Audi entered an all-female team. They debuted their R8 LMS GT4 with Ashley Freiberg and Gosia Rdest teaming up behind the wheel. The decision to have female drivers wasn’t a new concept for the team either, as Michèle Mouton raced in the 1980s, while Rahel Frey was part of Audi Sport Team in 2017 as they finished third at the Nürburgring.
To conclude, there is still being plenty of work that needs to be done in order to achieve complete gender equality in the Motorsport World, however the above indicates that strides towards this have been accomplished to some degree. In addition to this stride towards equality, Lookers Audi have a variety of Audi A8 vehicles available, who acknowledge the fact women are beginning to have more of a presence in the motorsport world.