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Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

Hello, again, folks.

This one nearly..... slipped the speedsix net, but I did mention it on last week's MWM Thread.

I recorded the Documentary and watched it this evening.

I thoroughly enjoyed it!! (and yes.... I am still pumped up after this weekend's RLM Broadcast from Silverstone!).

For me, the Documentary raised a few questions.

Why are there not more Female Drivers in Motor Sport? - High profile, or Local to you....?

Obviously, I could list many names of those, of whom... are, and have been.

BUT. The problem.. in the past... was physical strength.

These days, we have Racing Power Steering, "Flappy Paddle" Gear selection etc, etc...

So.... the only limitation is upper body strength to cope with G Forces.

Well, the Gym (and a good Physio) can sort that out.

So where are the Ladies?

If you have the Racing Talent, where are you?

Are we STILL restricted by stereotype?

Is it a question of time?

Regards, speedsix.

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

I can't remember the exact episode number (I'm sure MotorsMadMan can. It's first or second week after Le Mans), but there was a good discussion on this issue in MWM S7. The points raised were that there's a healthy mix of boys and girls in karting, but then girls lose interest somewhere along the way in their teenage years and never make it to Formula Three.

I have no idea why it happens, but it's not exclusive to karting. I remember from secondary school that when I was in first year, a lot of girls played the footballs, hockey or netball. By the time I got to sixth year, none of the girls in my year were actively involved in sport, but many of the boys were still playing rugby and the footballs.

So the reason we don't have a lot of female drivers in higher level motorsport is that very few are pulled from the lower levels at a young age. I will hypothesise that the percentage of girls with the potential to reach F1 is the same as the percentage of boys, and the reason we don't see more making it through is because far less continue from karting into feeder series.

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

Sir Stirling Moss has his say:

1200 + comments below the article.

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

I think Stirling's comments, while I don't agree with them anyway, are dressed in an out-of-date language which makes them sound worse than they are. I don't believe that women are at too much at a disadvantage physically to make it enough of an obstacle to reach the top, but something else is missing, so he may have a point - but only in talking about the lack of women *so far*. I profoundly disagree that it's impossible for a woman to have what it takes mentally, though. You look at successful women in other sports, like Serena Williams, and their success owes a hell of a lot to mental strength. Motor racing has never had its Serena Williams, though.

The main issue is not the F1 teams - in fact, I hope they're sensible enough to not race Susie Wolff, an average DTM driver who is only close to an F1 seat due to marrying into the sport (what sort of message does that send to women!?!). The issue is at the bottom of the pyramid. Not enough little girls, or teenage girls, take the interest needed at a young enough age to learn the essential skills, and something needs to be done to attract more of them. Natural talent is not enough for F1 for man or woman, so you need to learn all you can from a young age (Fins start karting at 6 and many claim this gives them a huge advantage and explains the amount of drivers they produce for such a low population). It just seems ridiculous to me that the assumption is that the problem lies at the very top...

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

Women are sometimes still discouraged to take up racing; but on a club & regional level, I also see the opposite happening. Deughters of racing fathers (or mothers) are actively encouraged by their families, as well as clubs, to get involved in the sport. Many young women are behind the wheel and giving the guys hell. They just don't seriously contemplate making it their profession. So when it comes to making it their profession, it's a different story;maybe their "mental aptitude" makes women more realistic about the prospects of earning a living driving racecars. And yes, quite a few do walk away from the sport in their teens; but a lot of these then return some years later, for their own enjoyment.

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

I've yet to watch the Susie Wolff docu but I do recall a seeing a short piece which focussed on Alice Powell in the last year or so and one of the problems that was touched on with regards to stepping up from carting into the more serious formula is the difficulty that women have in being taken seriously by potential sponsors (which pretty much all drivers need to fund their progression).

Which is a bit chicken and egg, really, as if there are aren't drivers coming through, we're not going to see the exceptional ones for others to hold up as examples.

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

Allan McNish has his say in MWM S8 Ep14 17th April...

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

It seems to me that there's still a lot working against women making their way to the top of motorsport, and sports in general, that has little to do with their ability. There's still social pressure for girls to act like girls to some extent, which could be what gets in the way just as they approach the teen years. I know my ex-brother-in-law seems to struggle with the idea that his daughter is a bit of a tomboy. On the one hand, he gets her into sports and if he had a son I have no doubt he'd be playing football and hockey, but then his family always tried to put her in dresses and try to get her to be more "girlie."

In the US, there's also the possibility of becoming a wealthy superstar for boys in sports that doesn't really exist for girls. Sure, there's tennis and golf, but women golfers make less and when it comes to the WNBA or women's soccer, they aren't go to retire off their earnings.

The other concern in racing is with sponsors and owners. I realize there's a bit of "born of another era" about Moss's comments, but I wouldn't be surprised if some people in power at various levels of motorsport are still hesitant about hiring women. It means fewer seats available and a different standard of evaluation when they do get rides. It could easily cut a career short.

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

A 60 min Audio programme from BBC Radio Five Live, by Jennie Gow:

Further reading matter:

Only 80+ comments below that one.

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

I'm impressed at the very high percentage of BBC commenters who don't know what a 'development driver' in F1 actually does.

Re: Susie Wolff, BBC "Driven" Documentary - thoughts, raised....

Could it be that women are simply not as interested in competing in motorsport? There are far fewer women in many competitive sports, save for some, and perhaps the pool of women who are competitive and desire to enter sport in general is much smaller. This would naturally lead to less women in motorsport.

The same sort of thing is faced in bicycling. Fewer women racing, concern about how to increase participation... Mostly I have found that many women love to bicycle, but simply do not feel like competing. In other cases women, and men, seem to get into sport later in life and from more of a "bucket list" perspective. In these cases there is no true passion for a particular sport; just a "i must complete this so i can talk about it at social gatherings" perspective.

Last thought would be social expectations. Very few people in life are lucky enough to either be encouraged to explore a variety of sports, or to chase their passions. I meet a lot of people who seem to be victims (so to speak) of social pressures and societal pressures to grow up, go to school, get married, have kids and own property as quickly as possible. Only later do they seem to realize that these things could happen at a slower pace with other experiences mixed in for good measure.

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