Unfortunately, like a lot of sports, go karting can appear to be male dominated at the highest level. However, there are lots of inspiring female drivers out there and the only way to tackle the male stereotyping is for more women to get karting!
A good organisation to know about is The British Women Racing Drivers Club, formed by Mary Wheeler in 1962, which has played a pivotal role in promoting and supporting women in motorsport. Membership to the club offers female racing drivers a full network of support and guidance. There is also a focus on providing recognition for achievements through BWRDC championships.
Other organisations have attempted to take steps towards supporting women in racing too, but unfortunately the success of this has not been absolute. For instance, Formula Woman was an all-female racing series which ran from 2004 to 2007. The aim was to get more women watching the sport and in turn increasing interest in female motorsports. The series was covered in a reality TV format by ITV.
It could be argued though that the reality TV format was somewhat damaging to the credibility of women’s motorsport. It’s a tricky one though, really, and a double edged sword. On the one hand, increasing awareness is no bad thing, but on the other it needs to be taken seriously. As female racing driver Alice Powell said in her interview with the Telegraph “once you put your helmet on, it’s a level playing field”. If that is the case, is highlighting the gap between male and female drivers really beneficial, or should we simply be seeking to close it?
The promising news though is that Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing team principal, recently claimed that it was only a matter of time before we saw a female F1 driver, saying that this would happen within another three to 10 seasons. Yet, the fact that the prospect of this is even that far away is somewhat worrying and we have to question why women aren’t on the track already.
Because, here’s the thing: perhaps more than almost any other sport, go karting and motorsports are a place where an even playing field between men and women can exist. It is an area in which women and men can directly compete against one another and the absence of women on that field is really a crying shame for gender parity.
How can women get involved in motorsports and go karting then? It is a case of just getting out there. Girls can start go karting from the age of 8, just the same as boys, and getting involved early is a fantastic idea. The BWRDC is a fantastic resource to use for any questions or support you might need, whether you are a female wanting to race yourself or if you are looking to support somebody else in participating. The more women out there supporting each other on the race track, the more seriously women’s participation in motorsports will be taken.
Featured image source: Jane Paveley – The Times