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"We’re all high-performance women in a high-performance motorsport and high-performance companies"

During the United States Grand Prix, Females in Motorsport sat down with Melissa Massa and Dana Ryan from Formula 1 partner Lenovo to talk about female representation within male-dominated industries like motorsport and tech and how technology can increase female fan engagement.

Since the start of their partnership in March 2022, Lenovo has worked with Formula 1 to maximise the fan experience for fans worldwide. And with the percentage of female F1 fans at 40% now, it’s more important than ever to capitalise on and maintain female engagement in motorsport.

“It’s impressive to see females being so involved in this sport,” says Dana, as she goes on to say that Lenovo is very aware of the growing opportunity it has to engage with women on-and-off track.

Similar to motorsport, there’s also a growing need for diversity in the technology sector.

“20% employees overall are female but there’s more work to be done underneath, more advancements at the CEO ranks and exec levels,” says Melissa.

Lenovo is leading the way in female representation and has impressive goals they’re seeking to achieve.

“I’m proud to work for a company that puts their money where their mouth is,” says Dana. “Lenovo is part of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, and we’re making sure we achieve our goals.”

With a goal of 27% female representation by 2025, Lenovo is striving to surpass the industry standard.

So, how can F1 use technology to reach more female fans?

“It’s important to address girls at a young age on both sides,” says Melissa. “STEM and the partnership with F1, and aligning our goals with F1 are key. We’re all high performance women in a high performance motorsport and high performance companies and so I love the alignment with F1 and Lenovo on our goals - we’re focused on making the world a better place.”

Lenovo has already started to increase engagement with activations such as their VR headsets and ThinkReality products but Melissa and Dana know there’s more to do.

It’s no secret that technology and motorsport are male dominated fields. As female leaders within their respective industry, Melissa and Dana have a lot of advice to share with young women entering the workforce.

“Be your authentic self, you need to be you,” Dana says. “If you come in and try to be certain people and personalities, that’s when you start getting the imposter syndrome, it’s important to make sure you demand and get a seat at the table and bring your voice to every situation.

“Those who have been out there a while, know how important it is to be your authentic self. A lot of people early in their careers are trying to find their way and they start to emulate; you want to stay true to your core and who you are.”

Outside of staying true to themselves, women also need support from other women across the industry.

“When you’re relatively new in your career, it’s important to have female mentors.” says Melissa.

To increase diversity across motorsport, it’s important to work together.

“Female mentors are important but so are male sponsors. It’s about making sure we’re the best people in the room, both men and women,” says Dana. “It’s important to have male and female mentors - that’s how we’re going to change the trajectory we’re on.”

Some of the work is already in motion across the technology industry and Lenovo is leading the charge with its ‘Women in Lenovo Leadership’ initiative.

“I hosted an event just a month ago, and what impressed me was the male allies in the room,” Dana says. “There were so many. I brought in a guest from another company, and she made that comment afterwards as well. I do a lot of these and I’m very impressed with the men and their support.”

So, how can women be set up for success in their careers? Dana and Melissa both agree that support and access is key.

“When you see interest, it’s really important you feed that interest,” says Melissa. “We need to find a way to keep it “cool”, use our technology and not put a stigma on women in tech.”

It’s also equally important for women to feel confident within themselves.

“We need to make sure we’re empowering women to go for every single job that’s out there”, says Dana. “It’s historically proven that women will not go for jobs if they’re not hitting every single qualification on a job specification. Whereas men look at it and say ‘oh I’ve got 20%’.

“Seeing others in the industry and us being out there and proactively talking about it, it can only help”.

You can read more about Lenovo’s partnership with F1 here.


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