Thank you, Claire Williams
I'll never forget the 18th July 2018. As a nervous 19-year-old, I made my way into the Williams HQ in Grove, Oxfordshire. Females in Motorsport had been invited to interview Claire Williams.
Typing that sentence is still surreal. We've looked up to Claire Williams for over a decade. She has been a figure of hope and a ray of inspiration. Women can lead a team and they can do it whilst facing adversity.
Being a woman in motorsport has meant sexism, inequality and challenges that we should never have to face. Yet, Claire Williams has been a light. She's led the third most decorated Formula 1 team and has done a great job - that's not easy when you've been fighting a battle in a man's world. You just have to look at the replies on social media to see the constant sexism and comments she has to face.
"We'll keep fighting," Claire told me back in 2018. Little did they know that 2019 would prove to be an even tougher year for the team. However, she never walked away. She kept pushing, driving and supporting even when fans called for her to step aside.
"My dad was very clear that nepotism wasn’t a word in his vocabulary," Claire says speaking of Sir Frank Williams. "I had no thoughts about even coming into Williams or Formula 1. It was very much my dad’s world and so my parents made that very clear to their children. It wasn’t on my radar that I would end up having a career in motorsport."
And yet she did. From a Communications Officer to Deputy Team Principal, Claire has led the team through its success and times of utter despair.
We must say thank you to Claire for all of the young girls and women that she has inspired along the way. I certainly would not be typing this if I hadn't have found out that a lady was at the helm of a multi-million pound sports team proving that you can be involved in motorsport no matter your gender.
Claire has led the battle for her place of work to become more diverse. Now, the team has more female representation than ever and that's something she's very proud of.
"When I first started 16 years ago at Williams, there was only literally a handful of us," Claire told us. "Even in the jobs that are traditionally thought of as jobs for girls, a lot of blokes were doing them. Now, we have a hundred or so of our staff, which is a seventh of our team, as female. That’s a significant turn around in what’s been a very short period of time."
Claire Williams is to be applauded for all that she's achieved. She led the team back to wins and podiums and has continued to be the face of the team whilst starting a family of her own.
Claire Williams truly is the definition of a role model.
Thank you for inspiring us and encouraging us to be ourselves.