IWD: Women making their mark

Friday 08 March, 2019
Written by Jessica Dane.
Following the first successful meeting of the newly formed CAMS Australian Women in Motor Sport Commission (AWMSC) and the celebration of International Women's Day, AWMSC chair Jessica Dane explains the Commission's objectives and importance and why the increase in female participation is essential to motor sport's longevity.  


Back in 2009, the FIA created the Women in Motor Sport Commission and 10 years later we had our first CAMS Australian Women in Motor Sport Commission meeting. Having attended my first FIA meeting as the Australian delegate via teleconference the night before the first AWMSC meeting, I was filled with pride as I comprehended how highly Australia is regarded on a global level for being at the forefront of the movement to get more females involved in our fantastic sport.

But the work isn’t finished. That’s why the AWMSC has an important role to play.

The Commission comprises a number of wonderfully passionate women and men, all of whom come from different backgrounds, have different motor sport stories to tell and bring a wealth of experience to the table. The benefit of this dynamic is that everyone has their own unique thoughts and ideas about how to tackle the challenges in front of us.

The purpose of the commission is clear – to increase female participation in motor sport at all levels and in all areas, and to create a proactive community environment for the women involved. The challenges themselves lie in the pathway to these goals and sit as top-level as the language we use to encourage inclusivity and as deep-seated as understanding the genuine reasons why more girls aren’t exposed to motor racing at a young age.

It’s not only about getting females behind the wheel. One of the beauties of this sport is that it’s an entire industry with a plethora of job descriptions – from engineers to mechanics, strategists to fabricators, machinists to senior management, we see women underrepresented. But why? If we, as a Commission, can make inroads into understanding this and making recommendations to tackle the road blocks through programs like Dare To Be Different, then we will be doing good work.

A question that I too frequently hear and see written is ‘why do we need more women in motor sport?’ and ‘what’s the point in encouraging more female participation?’.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to hear celebrated former F1 engineer Sam Michael interviewed at the CAMS Motor Sport Awards night. Although I know Sam well, I’d never had an in-depth conversation with him about his views on female participation in motor sport. I wish I had! In response to Greg Rust’s question on this topic, he gave a wonderfully insightful answer to which I unfortunately can’t do justice here – in racing we are constantly seeking to be better, the best, and when you have diversity in a group, the boundaries are continually pushed and stagnation is kept at bay. The world, whether we’re speaking in global terms or the microworlds of sport, is a better place with diversity embraced.

Motor racing is a family sport. A considerable number of participants get involved through family interests and links, so on this International Women’s Day, follow the official campaign slogan – “#BalanceforBetter, a balanced world is a better world.”

Seek diversity, encourage involvement and celebrate those women who are already kicking goals in motor sport who serve as inspiration to girls and women everywhere. 

This feature is part of a series highlighting the success and contributions to motor sport from women around the world in celebration of International Women’s Day 2019.