Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Breaking the misogyny in motorsport

Clara Faulkner
Courtesy Clara Faulkner

Formula One’s surge in popularity, alongside other racing series, has drawn a notable uptick in female enthusiasts. This rise owes much to the resounding success of Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” documentary, the widespread availability of global streaming platforms for races, the emergence of TikTok, and the indirect influence of the #MeToo movement. 

Since its inception in 1950, the Formula One World Championship has spanned 72 years among mostly male participants. Remarkably, only five women have dared to enter a World Championship Grand Prix during this extensive period. Among these, merely two managed to qualify for the race and subsequently participate in it.

The current moment in motorsport feels ripe for change, with various factors aligning to ignite transformation. This era may not only witness the emergence of the next Lella Lombardi, who graced the F1 grid almost 20 times, but also pave the way for an influx of female mechanics, race engineers, and even team racing principals akin to Guenther Steiner, Christian, or Toto. 

Amidst this burgeoning movement, one prominent figure stands out: Susie Wolff MBE, who serves as a deserving torchbearer for the cause.

Initially a skilled racing driver herself, Wolff transitioned to the business side of the sport, charting an impressive career trajectory. She ascended through the ranks to eventually hold the position of Team Principal at Venturi Racing (now Maserati MSG) in Formula E, before assuming the CEO role for the entire operation. 

Wolff now spearheads the fight on an even grander stage, serving as the managing director of the F1 Academy, a female-only single-seater racing competition.

In this role, she aims to further shape the landscape of motorsport by advocating for increased opportunities for young girls at all levels of the sport, including securing race seats, broadcast slots, and sponsorship for the next generation of female drivers. Her leadership promises to wield significant influence within the FIA, ensuring that the voices and talents of aspiring female racers are heard and embraced throughout the Formula One community.

On the fringes of the industry, presenters and influencers leave a notable impact by inspiring women worldwide to engage with motorsport media. One such individual is Lissie Mackintosh, a 23-year-old Formula One content creator and presenter with over 500,000 followers on multiple social media platforms. 

The creator’s content includes driver interviews, “Get Ready With Me” compilations, and travel vlogs. Mackintosh is driven by a mission to enhance diversity within the sport and is actively leveraging her platform to foster greater accessibility.

“The content creation side comes with thousands of people being able to say whatever they want to me. It was tough in the beginning; there were loads of comments like ‘stay in the kitchen’ and ‘know your place,’” Mackintosh told Sky Sports News.

Mackintosh emphasizes that sports, including Formula One, are ultimately about entertainment and enjoyment, regardless of one’s level of expertise. From the media to educators, women are making stands in the role of racing itself.

A beacon of hope for women in Formula One racing emerges with Jamie Chadwick. At just 23 years old, this British driver is the reigning champion in the W Series, an all-female open-wheel racing series inaugurated in 2019. 

Chadwick serves as a development driver for Williams, making her a promising figure pursuing gender equality within the sport. Not only has she competed in prestigious events like the Race of Champions, but Chadwick also piloted the iconic 1986 World Championship–winning Williams F1 car at the esteemed Goodwood Festival of Speed. In addition to her racing endeavors, she maintains a prominent presence in the media, collaborating with notable outlets such as the BBC, Channel 4, and Sky Sports.

Driven by a formidable ambition to break into Formula One, Chadwick has forged a close partnership with Williams to accrue valuable experience and knowledge. Her dedication has earned her praise and support from male figures within the Formula One community, including Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and George Russell.

However, Chadwick is not alone in her quest to reach Formula One. Several other talented and determined female drivers are making strides in the sport within the W Series and beyond. Notable names include Alice Powell, Beitske Visser, Marta García, and Maya Weug, all of whom possess the skill and determination to grace the Formula One grid in the future. 

As the push for gender inclusion in motorsport gains traction, a diverse coalition of individuals like Wolff, Mackintosh, and Chadwick set the stage for a potential paradigm shift within Formula One. With initiatives aimed at increasing opportunities for women at all levels of the sport, and the rise of prominent female figures breaking barriers both on and off the track, the prospect of a more inclusive and diverse Formula One community appears within reach. 

Yet, the question remains: will this surge in momentum translate into lasting change, ushering in an era where women’s contributions to motorsport are recognized and celebrated, or will the sport regress to its historically male-dominated status quo? Only time will tell, but the groundwork laid by these trailblazers suggests a promising future where gender equality in Formula One is not just a possibility but a reality waiting to be embraced.

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About the Contributor
Clara Faulkner
Clara Faulkner, Operations Managing Editor
Clara Faulkner wears multiple hats at the Beacon, serving as both the Business Director and the Living Arts Editor. Prior to assuming these roles, she demonstrated her expertise as an assistant editor, specializing in living arts—a domain she is deeply passionate about, fueled by her love for pop culture and entertainment. Additionally, Clara served as a writer for the Boston Globe, Boston.com, is a part of NBCUniversal Entertainment Group, and contributed to the music team at Intersect Magazine. In addition to her editorial responsibilities, Clara actively participates in various campus organizations, including SPJ, Associate Entertainment Producer at WEBN-TV, programming director at WECB. fm, and AEPHI. Outside of her writing pursuits, Clara immerses herself in culinary exploration, cinematic enjoyment, and language acquisition, consistently seeking fresh experiences and knowledge.

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