Tatiana Calderon, Jenzer, GP3, 2018

F1 is “making headway” with female participation – Carey

2018 F1 season

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Formula One CEO Chase Carey says the sport is making progress with encouraging more women to participate as competitors.

Although women have become more prominent in the management and engineering side of the sport in recent years, there are no women racing in F1 or F2. GP3’s Tatiana Calderon (pictured) is the leading woman on the F1 support ladder.

Carey said increasing the number of female competitors in F1 is “a big priority for us.”

Speaking at the FIA Sport Conference in Manila he said female participation in the F1 in Schools initiative shows girls are taking an interest in Formula One.

“I think we’re making some headway,” said Carey. “We have a thing called F1 In Schools that is trying to encourage STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] education initiatives in school-age kids. I went to the finals last year. Of the participants in that, and millions participated in it, it’s 35% female.

“So they’re actually in some of these places seeing some pretty good participation at different levels.”

Carey says the rising popularity of eSports could help introduce more women to motor racing but said there’s no “silver bullet” to address the problem.

Susie Wolff, Williams FW33, Silverstone, 2012
Why the numbers are stacked against more women reaching F1
“If we can create more visibility around it, more opportunities for females to see other females competing [and] engaged in the sport, hopefully that sparks interest. [We’re] trying to get females to participate, come out to our sport whether it’s at the track or some of the events we support.

“The eSports we’re pushing right now, we’re trying to very much push and encourage female participation. We have an eSports league competition, it is a great way for someone who’s not been in the sport to quite easily get a taste of it, see what they enjoy.”

“I think we have to keep making it a priority, providing visibility, providing opportunities,” he added.

“We’d love to have a female driver in Formula One. But we’d love to have more female participation whether it’s in the sport or fan engagement.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 48 comments on “F1 is “making headway” with female participation – Carey”

    1. Great, the numbers will come, but it will be a generational change, hopefully they can keep momentum in the movement over the years.

      1. Most sports segregate men and women into different championships, the only ones I can think of that don’t are equestrian and drag racing.
        The reason for the segregation is that if it was a competition open to both men and women, the women would very rarely win.
        This isn’t sexism but simply stating a biological fact that when it comes to a head-to-head competition depending on physical strength and fitness men will outperform women.
        I’m talking about trained athletes here not Joe public, I’m sure that there are innumerable women who would beat me in a 100 metre sprint, but then I’m and overweight septuagenarian so wouldn’t present much of a challenge.
        Interestingly there is a video on YouTube, NHRA Women of Power, celebrating all the successful women in drag racing and there have been quite a few.
        I’m not sure why women have had such a strong showing in drag racing but not in other US motor sports. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of the sports requirements can shed some light on the difference in requirements

        1. You mean families giving toy cars to boys and toy dolls to girls is biological?

          1. @nathanbuilder Hasn’t it been proven a long time ago that this actually has no impact whatsoever on career decisions and gender patterns, the influence they get during their teenage years are far more important than whatever toys they play with during their time as a kid. Millions of men played with cars and couldn’t care less for racing and drive a Dacia Sandero now,… and at the same time many women who played with dolls during their childhood haven’t become a stay at home mom,…

            1. There’s is extensive studies on the subject, I recommend you start with James M. Henslin.

            2. To answer your question straigt out @flatsix: NO, that has not been proven at all. Rather the contrary actually, follow @nathanbuilder ‘s advice for delving in if you are seriously interested.

              The most recent studies rather point to cultural bias setting in with kids as young as 3-4 years already.

            3. FlatSix (@)
              5th June 2018, 7:40

              @bascb, @nathanbuilder I couldn’t find too much of James M. Henslin, and most I’ve read seems to very much indicate there is a link but no actual direct proof, so if there’s a must read please link it. I was perhaps a bit short and very much agree there must be some influence, but whereas you develop ideas and skills during your younger years the real interests that develop a career come at a later stage. In your teenage years you develop so much more of a personality of your own whilst as a kid nothing but a couple of emotions drives you.

              Many “women in tech” advocates stand behind the idea that girls are being forced out of the hard sciences at a very early age. I’m not sure that’s entirely true: studies show that the majority of math class female shyness takes place in high school, not when girls are toddlers or elementary schoolers. But there is a value, I think, to embedding an interest in how things work in the minds of young girls.

            4. What I mean is we, as a society, need to share our love of motorsports with women. Not “with men and women alike”. With women specifically. Men don’t need help, in our society, in finding motorsports as a great thing.

              Just don’t count on me for doing that sharing, I’m a shut in.

          2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2778233/
            Abstract: […] Girls exposed to high levels of androgen prenatally, because of the genetic disorder congenital adrenal hyperplasia, show increased male-typical play, suggesting similar hormonal influences on human development, at least in females. […]

            http://www.psypost.org/2017/12/study-finds-robust-sex-differences-childrens-toy-preferences-across-range-ages-countries-50488

        2. You’re right as to why most sports segregate men and women. But the exceptions you highlight… equestrian and drag racing… those are surely more analogous to F1 than football or athletics?

          F1 drivers need to be fit enough, and the bar is pretty high, but once you’re there, being even fitter contributes little if anything. I think there is probably very little correlation between absolute fitness and championship position. Is Ricciardo much fitter than Verstappen? I doubt it. There are three areas F1 drivers need. (1) Physical fitness (2) Car handling skills (3) Tactical and decision making skills. All the drivers on the grid are very fit, I can’t recall the last time I saw any driver having his bad results put down to lack of fitness. Nobody is questioning whether Stroll and Sirotkin are fit enough, only whether their car handling is good enough. Nobody is questioning Verstappen’s fitness, only his tactical and decision making.

          I would accept that women in general would have a harder job reaching the required physical level, but F1 drivers are exceptional. Watch a top woman triathelete compete – there are most definitely women who can do it. And I see no reason why women could not have as good driving skills and tactical decision making as the best in F1. So I don’t think we’d ever expect 50/50, but realistically could expect 2 or 3 female drivers if other cultural barriers were removed.

          Let’s not forget too that the driver is only part of the package, the majority of the difference on the grid is the car, not the driver.

          The push to have more women in F1 is not for the sake of it, it’s the same reason they should push to give more people from outside Europe the chance – because there are huge cultural barriers to entry and if you knock those down, you widen the pool of candidates and more chance of finding someone special.

    2. Pushing for more women in F1 for the sake of having more women is silly. F1 should strive to have the best drivers in the world, regardless of what gender they are.

      1. Pushing for more women in F1 for the sake of having more women is silly

        I agree absolutely. Women don’t need special treatment they deserve equal opportunity.

        1. +1

          A man of my own heat.

        2. I’d love to see Liberty/FIA start a team of there own. They would run in the races but not get championship points. Let all the teams contribute proven components that would give the cars or car, a middle field performance capability. Use it to give female drivers and backup drivers experience. Now to pick that idea apart. Are there enough or any female drivers in the lower categories that can compete well enough to not cause problems for the real teams in a race? Ok guys chip in with your constructive ideas:))

          1. Oh yeah, they could also use the car to trail different ideas like the simplified wing etc., since there is almost no testing on track allowed. Quick feedback on new ideas would be quite helpful.

      2. @eddfire

        Pushing for more women in F1 for the sake of having more women is silly.

        Why assume that’s the reason when there’s an obvious and more likely one?

        1. Does F1 really think that money from female markets would flow to the series?
          Why would a female driver attract audience? Just check WNBA or football female leagues in most countries?

          1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
            4th June 2018, 16:47

            Why would a female driver attract audience?

            Have you not seen the following that Danica Patrick, The Force Daughters have brought to their respective racing series? Danica’s average finishing position in NASCAR is like 22nd-25th or somewhere there. Yet she had one of the top 10 fanbases. The Force daughters are all quite good, including multiple wins/championships, and are the most popular NHRA drivers.

            Look at other female drivers like Milka Duno or Carmen Jorda. Both were terrible in a race car, yet had sizeable followings.

            1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
              4th June 2018, 16:49

              As for the why.

              For male audiences, it’s greatly due to attraction, plain and simple.
              For female audiences, it’s down to equality, and seeing another female compete amongst men.

            2. @braketurnaccelerate Do we have numbers on their following, and what I’m even more interested in is whether we have percentages on the gender of their followers. “Do female drivers attract female fans”?

            3. So, is it a requisite that the female driver is attractive to men?

    3. Won’t happen over night but it must happen. Anyone who thinks that women can’t participate on equal footing to men in motor racing have rocks in their heads.

      1. Why hasnt it happened yet?

        1. @johnrkh
          The pool of young girls going into karting is tiny. They are not interested in high enough numbers to weed out the talented and strongest who could well compete with men and then they need very dedicated parents.
          Look at Alonso’s dad built his older daughter a kart and couldnt ger her interested so blagged a license for Fernando at only 4 years old and extended the pedals. Great start if you can get it.

    4. Let’s make this discussion end: give some wins and a title shot to a woman, and nobody will talk about it anymore.
      HAM was enough to everybody forget that it took 50+ years for we see a non-euro-white in F1.

      On the serious part: F1 cannot be accused of racism/genderism. It is just a tough place to find a seat.
      Japanese, with money and junior series, havent landed a win – I think the best was a 2nd place.
      Chinese, with a billion to choose from, neither.
      Does this mean that F1 is racist against asian? No.
      Even guys coming from USA have troubles in F1. Who was their last winner? Mario Andretti?

      Do F1 really thing they will get some sponsor from female markets?

      1. +1

        The excitement of a woman driver in F1 will last all of 1.2 seconds which will be the same as her time behind her teammate. After the initial excitement no one will care, such a non issue.

    5. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      4th June 2018, 14:10

      I apologise in advance if this comes across the wrong way because first of all I’d like to say these schemes are brilliant and I’m so pleased the number of women in engineering and management roles is on the rise but when it comes to competing in the sport it isn’t realistic at the top top level. There isn’t a single sport where women can beat the best men, from tennis to golf to darts to sprinting to long distance running to chess to (you name it) so why would F1 be any different? I hope to be proved wrong and I love that new generations of women will be inspired to get involved.

      1. Charlotte Dujardin ?

        1. Lol. Now that’s freaky I had no idea who Charlotte Dujardin was at all before I googled her but I guessed equestrian. Gold star for me :)

          1. You missed Dr. Renee Richards.

      2. Actually there is such a sport: @rdotquestionmark. THe point is that the “muscle power” comes from horses (equestarian events, including the olympics) or vehicles/cars – motorsport.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          5th June 2018, 9:31

          @bascb Fair comment. I’m not convinced the human element is as high a skill level as more mainstream sports, especially F1 but I don’t know much about equestrianism.

          1. Its not just muscle.

            Federer for example is not just stronger, his technique is also a lot better than that of the women tennis players.

          2. I think that it might actually be far more of a “mainstream” sport than you think. Certainly many people take part in it at local levels – not sure about watching on tv thoug @rdotquestionmark. The human element is quite high too, although off course there is more of a “partnership” with the horse where the mutual understanding is probably more key.

            1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
              5th June 2018, 14:37

              Yes very true @bascb

    6. If Fernando Alonso’s Sister had taken to her go-kart we might not have ever heard of him.
      Equal opportunities starts with the incredibly dedicated parents. People who arnt that easy to come by in the first place let alone ones who can coax daughters into Karting and keep their interest.
      F1 has drivers who won races in single seaters straight out of karts. Susie Wolf didnt get a single podium in her long career before being shoe-horned into F1.
      If girls starting winning in their first single seater seasin then the’yll open as many if not more eyes than the lads.

      1. Based on what do you say that?
        On Wimbledon the mens tournament is still much more important and the level of play is much, much higher. You cant even compare it to the womens tournament with the short matches, lower technique levels and outcomes like 6-0 6-1 even in the finales.
        And a lot of girls and women play tennis worldwide from a young age.

        I dont see how women would “open” even more eyes than men in F1

        1. Because of the surprise factor, as it hasn’t been done before. Just as Lewis Hamilton gained a higher than usual attention, hype, interest and backing because of his skin color.
          Also there will be loads of companies waiting for the marketing potential of the first female driver to take wins in her first European single seater season.

          Iirc Robert Kubica got pole first time out in Formula BMW after being in a kart. This is what women are up against.

          1. Hamilton is actually really good.
            Really good from the start of his career.

            If he wasnt that good he wouldnt have got that attention of course. Yes maybe one or two news posts on his first grand prix but that would have been it.

            On a side note
            Hamilton is half white half black
            Just like obama. People seem to forget that often.

    7. Realistically, it’s probably gonna be a little while. I would say F1 is probably, more so than other sports, able to accommodate males and females in the same championship, but there are still biological factors. And it’s a generational shift too. Not many females from the current generation will have gone into that sort of stuff, as times were different and karting is something you start as a young child. Only in the last couple of years have there been probably more significant pushes from society and some younger girls would start karting, and so it’ll be 10-15 years before any of them get to the F1 stage of their careers. Of course there are a few women doing alright in the lower formulas, eg Jamie Caroline and Sophia Floersch, but only a few.

    8. Ok so I’m a female F1 fanatic and in my time I did a tiny bit of amateur karting. I found out that no matter how much I practiced I was not gifted enough to go pro.

      Did my female friends back then have a chance to compete? Yes they did. Were they interested? Absolutely not. Was any of them talented enough? Nobody will ever know.

      Nowadays I can’t talk seriously about F1 with any of my female friends, relatives or acquaintances. They all find the topic lethally boring. Many of my male friends, relatives and acquaintances also do, but fortunately not all. And no, I don’t think it is because of toy cars vs toy dolls, or minimally at most.

      I am afraid that even in a perfectly equalized playing field the male candidates for F1 will vastly outnumber the female candidates. So it is going to be rather unlikely to find one female who makes the cut.

    9. Maybe many girls are just not interested in motor-sport? And theres absolutely nothing wrong with that.

      But trying to force diversity to tick boxes (and make more money for Liberty) is certainly not the way to go and will only alienate men who are pushed aside to suit an agenda.

      As long as the sport doesn’t go out of its way to penalise females (which it does not) then the BEST drivers will rise to the top, regardless of gender.

      1. GtisBetter (@)
        5th June 2018, 12:42

        But it’s a catch-22. One of the big reasons woman are not interested, because they have no one to identify with. And because when they show interest at a young age, it depends heavily on the parents if it gets pursued. But that way, you will never get an f1 driver and no one will become interested, because the odds are stacked heavily against them. So breaking the cycle and getting a couple of woman in f1 just to show it’s a realistic option for woman is good thing i think.

        1. Female soccer players usually identify with the males like Beckham’s and Messi’s.

        2. Or maybe its just a primal thing – growing up, boys are usually drawn to action, and girls are usually into gentle things.

        3. Which women?

          F1 is not a training division right?

          It should be about the best drivers in the world

          Never in my life watching F1 22 years now I have thought, hey maybe F1 will get more fun to watch if there were female drivers

          I only care about skill

    10. Any one with a daughter who thinks she could be the one , buy ‘KartRacing Pro’ simulator for the PC. It’s one of the most realistic sims of any vehicle type.

    11. No one has mentioned Bikes ….. The physical aspect (or lack of it) in road racing should be an equalizer especially in the lower displacement classes, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Not saying it is easy nor that the top riders don’t do a load of physical training, success in pretty much any sport these days requires it and consequently rewards those who “just do it”.

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