In case you missed it, Dorna have announced that there’ll be a FIM women-only world championship circuit racing series in 2024.
You can watch the press conference at the link above but the bottom line is, six European rounds of single-make racing as a support race on the WSB calendar.
In a way I think it’s a shame that it’s necessary to have a chmpionship like this, because there shouldn’t be any barriers to women riding in championships currently dominated by men. On the other hand, putting a spotlight on women in racing can’t be a bad thing and if we end up with more women in the sport, so much the better.
I hope that one day there will be another announcement to say that the women’s championship is being cancelled because they are all busy competing and winning in local and world superbikes, and all levels of MotoGP.
I’m hoping that no men will be allowed to compete in the series…
This will be an exciting series and one that I will enjoy following
Personally I think it’s counter productive. There’s been the car equivalent for several years and it’s achieved nothing positive for getting more female competitors into other ‘mixed’ categories. Winning it doesn’t prove anything to the wider motorsport world.
There’s nothing in the wider regulations that prevents women from competing in the existing championships. If you’re good enough, determined enough and suitably well funded enough, you can succeed. That’s true for everyone.
In principle that’s all true. Unfortunately it’s also true that there is a bias in the system. If a women’s championship showcases talent then it can’t be a bad thing. Attitudes won’t change overnight but they won’t change at all without taking positive steps.
I’m not convinced there is a bias in the system. Motorsport is an incredibly competitive and expensive business - at the end of the day race teams just want the driver who can best bring them success (or a bucket load of cash) regardless of race, colour or gender. In fact a super competitive race winning female driver/rider would be every race team’s dream come true - imagine the media coverage (and sponsor opportunities) that would bring?
Winning an all female championship proves nothing in the wider racing world.
There have been high profile examples (although not many, admittedly) of women succeeding in motorsport. Michelle Mouton won world rally championship races for Audi in the 1980’s and was runner up in the 1982 world championship. She also won her sports car class at the LeMans 24 hours - clearly she was good enough despite the extra sexism that would have existed back then. Danica Patrick in the US is another example - race winning Indy car driver. Katherine Legge is another more recent example of an exceptional female race driver who seemed on the brink of an Indy car drive until she ran out of funding (like many male drivers do).
If anything, having a female only championship just demeans female racers - it suggests they’re not good enough to compete against the men which isn’t true as the above examples prove.
I believe things are improving but you don’t have to go very far to find stories from women who struggle to make it in a male-dominiated environment. There’s that classic tale about the female F1 engineer whose experience in regular garages was to have the mechanic talk directly to her boyfriend/husband. It’s an example of an expectation that leads to bias.
A championship for women isn’t about feeding racers in to other classes (they say this in the press conference); it’s more about raising the profile and awareness that women are out there and want to race. In turn they’ll influence a younger generation who’s expectation will be different about who belongs in motorsport. As a numbers game, the more women who are racing full-time, the more likely it is that the best of the best will compete at the top levels with the men, ultimately without the need for a gender-specific series…
I’ve said the same thing in the past about teams being able to promote themselves because they have a woman driving or riding. So where are they? If it’s a level playing field and there’s no bias, the only logical conclusion is that women, with a few exceptions, just aren’t capable of competing with men. Men are just naturally better at racing. I don’t buy that. If this new series is the way to broaden the appeal and get more women in to racing, it’s a good thing in my opinion. I’d be interested to hear how money women think it’s demeaining to them. I suspect that’s a mostly a male point of view but I stand to be corrected, ladies…
As long as its racing and they don’t have to reverse park
I take your points and think they’re good ones.
If you really want to see more women competing at the top levels in all motorsport, it’s really about how you get more 6 or 7 years old girls taking up karting or mini bikes. Will these girls be inspired by a women only series? Maybe, let’s hope so. I personally don’t believe it’s the answer and if girls want to become the best they can be, they have to be competing against the very best from the start, not just competing against other girls/women.
Agreed, we don’t want some sort of conciliatory, second division racing for women. That would be a bit rubbish and I’m sure abilities, once nurtured, would mean it doesn’t ever happen. I don’t doubt that serious racers, of any gender, want o test themselves agains the best and win. It’s going to take years before we really see how this works as a stepping stone towards equal opportunities. Perhaps the one thing we can definitely say is that at least the FIM are tryign to do something.
Anyway, I’m off to World Netball to see about setting up a mens league.
The “right stuff” will make it on their own IMO
Moved across to Indian now but fast on that Triumph
Ok, but if it’s that straightforward, how is that ‘the right stuff’ is so incredibly male oriented? Either men are better or there’s it’s a more complicated picture.
It comes down to the available talent pool. Unless you can get more young girls to take up motorised competition at a very young age the sport will remain very male oriented. It does seem (for whatever reason) that young girls are not as interested as young boys in cars and motorbikes and this continues into adulthood.
What is the gender split of motorbike owners generally (big bikes, not scooters and mopeds)?
How many female bikers first got into it because their husband/partner already had a bike?
What is the gender split of people who post on car or motorbike forums?
I still maintain that if a girl/woman is good enough, determined enough and wealthy enough, they can succeed in motorsport. But currently if you have one girl and one hundred boys pursuing the same dream, then statistically it’s always going to be one of the boys that succeeds.
Is a female only halo series the answer to inspiring more young girls to give it a go? Possibly, but I don’t think so.
I think that the FIM (like the FIA) are introducing a female only series so that they can be ‘seen’ to be doing something, rather than thinking about how to address the far more complex real problem.
Neal has just transcribed my thoughts.
Good luck with your mens world netball, the same issue applies, there simply isn’t enough interest.
I agree with almost everything you said. Where we differ is my optimism that the series will have a positive effect overall. Whether it’s a big enough effect only time will tell.
I’m not quite as cynical about the FIM’s move. They’ve had a ‘women in motorcycling’ commission in partnership with the FIA for a long time. It’s almost surprising this hasn’t happened before, in fact. Their vision is " TALENT TO COME FIRST meaning to choose the persons not because of their gender but because of their capabilities and abilities", which is exactly what you were saying, and I agree. Their short and long term objectives to achieve this make sense and the series announcement fits right in with them.
Just an aside.
A few years ago now, I arrived home on my bike and my neighbour was in his front garden with his two grandkids - a little boy aged about four and a little girl aged about six. They watch the bike arrive and come over. The little boy wanders around the bike making lots of appreciative noises (I warn him to be careful not to touch anything because the engine and exhaust will be hot) while the little girl is stood next to me. She looks up at me and asks “can girls ride motorbikes?” I was a bit surprised by the question and said that yes, of course girls can ride motorbikes, but you’re going to have to wait until you’re a bit older. She says “how old are you?” I said errr, well how old are you? She says six, so I replied that I’m older than six. She sighed and said “I know that, you’re a grown up!”
It was an amusing little exchange, but I was surprised that she would ask whether girls can ride motorbikes. The little boy just said “I want one when I’m a grown up”.
That is a very sweet story. I suppose the little girl just associated bikes with boys/men because of her grandfather and maybe her dad, too. It just shows how a little positive reinforcement of ‘what girls can do’ never goes amiss.
Also as an aside, over the years I’ve had two partners that ended up riding bikes because I did, and encouraged them to get on and do it themselves when they said things like “I’ve always wanted a motorbike but…”
My youngest granddaughter (8) ready for her motocross tuition.
That is excellent. You go, girl!