The reaction of people when I tell them that I am a motorsport journalist is usually met with total surprise. Maybe it is my age, or the fact that I don’t “look” like I would be interested in motorsport, but usually it’s the fact that I am a woman. The responses are never negative though, normally a reference to Suzi Perry or Lee McKenzie and words along the lines of “wow, that is different.” I always find it funny though because, to me, my gender isn’t really relevant to how I do my job – it never has been and it never will be.
In all honesty, it has taken me a year or two, dozens of drafts and plenty of requests to write a blog post like this. I think the reason I have been hesitant is because the topic is so subjective, and I just haven’t found the right words to get across the point I am trying to make. Everyone in motorsport, male or female, will inevitably have different experiences in how they got into their current job and the challenges they faced. This is just my version of events and my opinion, that must be made clear before I start.
Growing up watching motor racing, I was always aware it was a male-dominated sport. All the drivers were male, as were team principals and very large percentage of engineers and mechanics within the teams. The only media-facing female presence came in the shape of pit-lane reporters and TV presenters, but that was just all I knew from an early age. It never put me off the sport, probably because I didn’t know better at six or seven-years-old, but oddly I never questioned if I could be a part of motorsport; I just assumed that with hard work and determination I would be there too.
As I grew older my dreams and aspirations changed, the idea of working in motorsport drifted in favour of becoming a teacher. However, boredom over the summer holidays five years ago resulted in me creating a blog about motorsport, my biggest hobby, with the rest being history. The fact I was a 17-year-old female writing about motorsport on an online platform didn’t even cross my mind when I started writing, I did it because I had passion for the sport and opinions which many of you agreed with.
Soon my social following began to increase, with it being common for readers to leave comments or their opinions on my work. Of course, amongst many pleasant and supportive messages there would be the odd negative tweet but I would take their thoughts and views on board to make the next piece of work I published better. In some cases, their negativity would ignite a tangent and resulted in an idea for a future blog post.
However, one comment I have never received, that I can recall, is being told my opinion or my work is wrong just because I am a woman. Never. This isn’t me saying that it doesn’t happen, because it does and I have seen it first-hand from female friends and colleagues. I think I must just be super lucky to have a very supportive collection of readers and followers who read my content because they enjoy it. Yes, my gender may be the niche that caused them to find me and my work, but I am hoping they stuck around for the quality of my work and not the fact I am female: that is the goal anyway.
I am often asked how I find it being a woman in motorsport, but the honest truth is I don’t even think about it when I am on the job. When I am walking up and down a pitlane, interviewing a driver in a media pen or sat in a media centre transcribing, my mind is on a million different things. At the end of the day, I am there because I have the knowledge, the passion and determination to be in that field of work. As many professional drivers will tell you, once the racing helmet goes on and you are in a car on a race track, it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, as long as you are fast. The same goes for me. As long I am asking the right questions and generating quality content, my gender is an irrelevant factor.
Of course, I will always jump at the chance to be part of initiatives such as Dare to be Different because inspiring and supporting the next generation of women in motorsport is hugely important. Nobody should feel restricted to follow their dreams and aspirations because of something that is out of their control, whether that be gender, age, race, religion or social class.
Truthfully, I feel that since venturing into the world of motorsport media only a few years ago, there has been a growing number of females beginning to emerge in media roles. Maybe it is just because I am making myself more aware of it, or maybe it is because of initiatives such as D2BD or the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission. Either way, it is great to see. In Formula E, the championship I currently dedicate most of my time to, I would go as far as to say that there are more female journalists and contributors to online media sites than there are in most motorsports. I am not sure if it is because the championship is only in its fourth season and advertises itself as being a part of the “future” but either way around 20-25% of people in the media centre on race day in Berlin were female.
To me, it does seem strange that a blog post about “being a woman in motorsport” has been so requested: there isn’t really much to say. Yes, I am aware that occasionally I get that “look” from men that maybe work in the garages or I pass in the paddock, but I never pay them much attention. Yes, I often find guys ‘mansplaining’ topics to me, but once I show them I know as much, or sometimes more, than them they will stop or walk off embarrassed.
I suppose the point I am trying to make is that although to many I ‘dare to be different’ with my career ambitions as a woman, for me my gender is an irrelevant factor into how I do my job, as well as how much I love it and will always have a burning passion to do well within motorsport journalism.