Written by 13-year-old Evie Harris from Florida, USA.
A month ago we had a heartwarming message left on our website: Females in Motorsport had inspired a 13-year-old to begin their very own blog. We got in touch with Evie Harris from America and asked if she would like to write a piece for our blog. The topic she chose: women working in a range of roles in Formula 1. Evie's blog: https://my-racing-diary.livejournal.com/
Since its creation, Formula 1 has been considered a man's environment. However, with initiatives like FIA Girls on Track UK, that is beginning to change. Social media has made people in different roles more visible and that's inspiring more people. Here are three pioneering women who continue to break through the barriers of this male-dominated industry.
"F1 drivers don’t care if a woman or a chipmunk calls the shots." - Ruth Buscombe
Ruth was a bright and academic student at school and decided to enrol at the University of Cambridge. Cambridge is one of the top ten universities worldwide, which made this an incredible achievement for Ruth.
She was advised by her teachers not to pursue engineering but insisted upon it. Ruth graduated with a first-class degree in Aerospace and Aerothermal Engineering. Her university thesis was about the effects of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) in Formula One.
Ruth soon started work as a simulations development engineer for Ferrari at their Maranello factory. Two years later, she began a new job with the team, becoming a race engineer instead. After three years of working at Ferrari, Ruth decided to make a move to Haas F1. While at Haas, she was a trackside race strategist. She kept that job for under a year before moving to her current position at Alfa Romeo.
She is a firm believer that women should be included and given opportunities in the field of motorsport. Ruth's focus on her work and drive to succeed is admirable, and why she deserves to be on this list.
In an interview with the University of Cambridge's Department of Engineering, she said: “It’s so important that we fight the archaic stereotype that women and motorsport don't go together to prevent misinformation and dogma prescribing a subset of career choices for girls. I'm proud to be a part of an initiative that will showcase the fantastic opportunities available within motorsport; where what counts is what you can do - not what gender you are.”
"This job has always been something that I’ve always aspired to do, so I wasn’t going to let anything deter me away from it." - Stephanie Travers
Mercedes had chosen Petronas Trackside Fluid Engineer Stephanie Travers to accept the Constructors' trophy for them after Lewis Hamilton's win at the Styrian Grand Prix in Austria. Stephanie made history by becoming the first black female to stand on a Formula One podium. At the time, Stephanie was not aware of this, but she said of the moment "the emotions just came to me".
Born in Zimbabwe, Stephanie moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 10. Her love of cars had been present in her life for many years, stemming from her youth. Stephanie has cousins who have karted and worked in motorsport, which was her introduction to the sport.
"I really enjoyed learning about engines, how cars are put together and just seeing what happens when a car runs," she told Marie Claire. Stephanie has a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Bradford and a Masters in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College.
Stephanie's previous job was at a chemical plant as an engineer. However, she currently works as a Petronas Trackside Fluid Engineer (PTFE) and her job is to work alongside Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team. There were over 7,000 applicants for her job as well as a five-part process for her selection. She has said that the process "involved a timed race through Kuala Lumpur city centre to find the CEO of PETRONAS and have one final interview with him".
Stephanie's perseverance and passion for her career inspire me as a young teen to never give up.
Lewis Hamilton said of her podium achievement: "This is an amazing achievement and I just wanted to acknowledge her for her hard work, positivity, and passion for her job… Steph said she wants to inspire young black children, and children of colour to believe that they can do it too, and I couldn’t agree more. Put your mind to it, and you can be anything you want to be. So whilst I really appreciate all of the congratulations, I wanted [to] take the opportunity to lift her up, and share them with her."
"I wanted to create the content that lived on social media." - Alex Thomson
Alex Thomson was born in Adelaide, Australia, and has had the privilege to travel the world for her work. In an interview with Fast and Fearless, Alex said: "The house I grew up in was about 50 metres from Victoria Park Racecourse, the Adelaide Street Circuit, so my very early memories were of Formula 1 at the end of my street. I actually learnt to ride my bike on the pit straight!”
She went to the University of Adelaide and studied Commerce. In her senior year, she won a scholarship for an exchange programme and got the opportunity to study in Singapore during 2012. Alex then entered a post-graduate programme at the university, receiving a first-class degree.
Alex also ran a popular blog, Alelbuth, from 2013 to 2015. She wrote race reports and her thoughts about the Formula One seasons. Around that time, she emailed her CV to the Lotus F1 team. She achieved an internship in their Media and Communications department, writing press releases and assisting with their social media platforms.
Soon afterwards, she became a Senior Media Lead for the Yas Marina circuit. That is the track that hosts the yearly Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Two years later, Alex became the manager of their social media.
After working in the UAE for almost four years, she decided to quit her job. Alex did not meet the Visa requirements for several offered positions but eventually found work at the F1 Paddock Club. The F1 Paddock Club is the hospitality centre of each Grand Prix, and it offers premium dining and viewing above the team's garages. She made a courageous decision and chose to accept the offer and subsequently made the move to Sweden. Alex became a Social Media Manager: this role meant that she handled the social media accounts for the F1 Paddock Club. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, she was furloughed.
Currently, Alex is the Digital and Social Media Director of Alelbuth Media, her own company. During the 2020 Formula One season, she worked for Motorsport Network and the Virtual F1 Paddock Club.
Alex inspires me to be ambitious and to take opportunities in stride. Her career choices have paid off, but they all required leaps of faith.
After all, you will never know unless you try.