Segregation in motorsport

Reports emerged today regarding the potential creation of a women-only motorsport series, which would compete with six rounds hosted across Europe and America from 2019.

The online backlash was expected and immediate, with dozens of social media users identifying that increase segregation will not provide the solution to greater gender equality in the world of motorsport.

Where are the issues?

Motorsport is still a predominantly male industry, with many of the gender equality barriers that can be seen across STEM disciplines.

It is not just drivers who face issues. Many female or LGBT+ workers in the motorsport industry face discrimination, bullying, harassment or are simply overlooked for opportunities due to their gender.

This is compounded by the drive from senior representatives, such as Bernie Ecclestone, to increase segregation by having women-only championships. Such efforts are attempts to deflect media attention, and only serve to cheapen the talents of those who should be competing on an equal footing.

What are the solutions?

The solutions to gender equality in motorsport are as complex and myriad as they are for gender equality throughout society. However, increased segregation can never be considered the solution.

The very existence of Negro League Baseball is a blight on American sporting history and is a testament to the changes that were necessary in society at the time before their abolition. The creation of a female-only motorsport championship will be regarded in a similar light by future generations.

What is required is a concerted attempt by senior officials at the FIA and championship organisers to address sexist behaviour throughout motorsport, while also enacting grassroots initiatives to help anyone with talent to achieve potential.

Sadly action is lacking in this area and what little talk of such matters has been cheap.

Heroes not villains

On the same day that these reports emerged, Robert Kubica was testing for Williams in Abu Dhabi in what could be one of the sport’s most sensational comebacks. Speaking about his injuries after the test, the Pole commented: “We are human beings and our brains are used to help our bodies overcome disabilities. This is normal daily life.”

This statement perfectly encapsulates that positive role that the drivers – the on-track heroes of motorsport – can play. If they are talented enough, they are good enough – regardless of race, gender or disability. This is the message that organisers should be focused on sharing and using to inspire future generations.

Segregation will get us nowhere.

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