More than Equal (MTE) has just published their eagerly anticipated Inside Track: Exploring the gender gap in motorsport report, outlining the findings from their Global Attitude Survey conducted earlier this year. And, we’re certain that they’re going to change the very DNA of motorsport. For the better.
Image credit: More than Equal
MTE is a global, independent and non-profit organisation aiming to find Formula 1’s first female world champion and their report follows the largest-ever study that has been conducted on female participation in motorsport.
The report delves into issues surrounding both female participation in motorsport on-track, as well as the role and perceptions of female motorsport fans. While there are many positives to take from public perception and opinion on females in motorsport, unsurprisingly, the report also sheds light on key areas of concern which stakeholders must address immediately.
Most staggeringly, the research found that “based on the current numbers, without significant intervention, the chances of a woman ever reaching the top is incredibly small”. This means that we MUST act now in order to put necessary steps in place to avoid this stark outcome.
So, how exactly did MTE come to this conclusion? We’ve broken down some of the reasoning below.
Lets firstly provide some context on the research carried out as part of the Global Attitude Study.
13,000 people spanning 147 countries provided their feedback and opinions via the survey, which was translated into 16 languages and hosted via an independent platform. One-on-one interviews were also held with 70 leading stakeholders in the industry, including F1 Team Principals and current female racing drivers.
Female Participation in Motorsport
In relation to female participation, the report does outline some positives. It details that many respondents believe that female drivers possess the same standard of technical skill and emotional intelligence required to compete at the highest levels of motorsports to that of male drivers.
Interestingly, many fans also do not believe that there should be gender-specific series (similar to that of W Series and F1 Academy), but rather that female and male drivers should be racing against each other in the same series.
W Series 2021 Hungary Grand Prix Podium. Image credit: Motorsport Network
Unfortunately, areas of concern relating to female participation in the sport were also aplenty in the report. First and foremost, the report shows that global female participation in motorsport is critically low - currently sitting at between 7-13% on average across all levels of competition.
With a massive gender performance gap between male and female drivers, women are leaving their racing careers much earlier than their male counterparts, thus continuously reducing the chances of a female ever competing in elite levels of the sport.
Lella Lombardi, the first woman to score points in Formula 1. Image credit: F1
The report further outlines the many reasons that exist as to why female drivers may not progress through the rankings of motorsport via an equal progression path to that of their male counterparts. Mainly, lack of track time compared to male drivers; lack of female role models in the sport; negative perceptions of females ability to drive to the same standards as males; stereotyping and; a lack of training across multiple areas.
Image credit: More than Equal
The landscape for female motorsport fans in 2023 also provides for some interesting reading and huge considerations for stakeholders in the sport looking to engage with, and leverage, the power of these fans. Primarily, female fans are more likely to engage with motorsport if a series has female participation, but are currently extremely dissatisfied with the lack of inclusion for women in the sport.
Furthermore, in a stark comparison to male fans, female fans mainly interact with motorsport through social media and are a whooping 70% more likely to engage with digital motorsport content than their male counterparts. Even more eyebrow-raising is that those aged 16-24 years old are actually more likely to have been introduced to the sport through social media in the first instance.
However, yet again the report also sheds light on unfortunate and worrying concerns of females who are trying to navigate their position in the motorsport fanbase. Many respondents claimed they feel the culture of motorsport can be unwelcoming and inappropriate - a recurring theme we at Females in Motorsport have unfortunately seen firsthand.
As a whole, female fans do not believe the sport is doing enough in order to improve the sexist and misogynistic culture that they believe very much still exists without the sport today. In fact, when ranked against other global sports in relation to how these sports are driving change in equality, diversity and inclusion, motorsport underperformed against each of these (except for American Football).
All this to say that public perception of the inclusivity of the sport is at an appalling level.
Image credit: More than Equal
Following the findings of this report, MTE has committed to the following…
Continuing to develop and publish research to provide relevant insight into developing female participation in motorsport;
Launch a world-class driver programme to train and develop young talent;
Create the first-ever database of global female talent, and;
Leverage their networks to support.
Despite the significant money in global motorsport, growing global and political interest and more fans tuning in than ever before, the findings of this research have found that motorsport is massively lagging behind other global sports with regards to female participation and representation - a damning finding.
MTE has been an industry-leader in actively discovering and highlighting the issues in the current motorsport environment that are hindering female progression through extensive research, and while they have put steps in place to combat these issues, we all have a part to play.
You can read the full report here.