Motorsports working hard to address gender imbalance

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 Motorsports has historically been a male-dominated environment, but it appears that things are slowly beginning to change.

Gender equality has long been thought to be the impossible dream on the race track, with physical performance often cited as a reason why females cannot compete against their male counterparts.

However, as highlighted by recent research by Betway, there have been several examples of women showing that they are perfectly capable of competing in motorsports.

The German Touring Car Masters (DTM) series has historically been one of the most forward-thinking when it comes to offering opportunities to female drivers.

Beate Noades famously became the first woman to finish on the podium in a DTM race in 1986, while Ellen Lohr is the most successful female driver in the history of the series.

She claimed victory at the Hockenheimring in 1992, overtaking former Formula 1 World Champion Keke Rosberg in her Mercedes near the end of the race.

Sophia Florsch and Esmee Hawkey are the latest females to compete in the DTM, but many other series continue to turn a blind eye to women racers.

Thankfully the issue is slowly being addressed, with motorsports creating some exciting new initiatives which are designed to increase female participation.

One of the driving forces behind one of the new schemes is Michele Mouton, who was the first woman to achieve overall victory in a World Rally Championship race in 1982.

She claimed two further wins that season to finish second in the standings, just 12 points behind German driver Walter Rohrl.

Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, Per Eklund and Henri Toivonen were amongst the rally legends left trailing in Mouton’s wake.

She was subsequently appointed as the first president of the FIA’s Women & Motor Sport Commission in 2010, and is eager to see motorsports become more inclusive.

Mouton played an integral role in launching ‘FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars’ initiative in 2020, which aims to discover and promote the best talents between the ages of 12 and 16.

The innovative scheme has already resulted in one teenager, Maya Weug, becoming the first female driver to join Ferrari.

In an interview with MotorSport Magazine last year, Mouton insisted that the only way to attract more females into motorsports was to focus on the grassroots level.

The programme has been designed to work with young girls to educate them about motorsport, with a view to increasing the number of females who compete at the top level.

“Our most ambitious programme is the Girls on Track karting challenge, started last year,” said Mouton.

“We have pooled resources with Susie Wolff’s Dare to be Different project, have been given some EU funding, and the idea is to get girls to try a kart.

“We have already worked with more than 1,000, now have two training camps and are hoping that many of them will continue in motorsport.

“If we can catch them at a young age we can encourage and inspire them.”

With the W Series and Extrem E Rallye also offering females the opportunity to compete at a high level, motorsports finally appears to addressing its issues regarding inclusivity.

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