Ahead of International Women’s Day, KWSP are celebrating its female employees and those females, past and present, who are helping to drive change in providing access for women in this industry.
The start of women playing important roles in the automotive industry began in 1914. Men had been called to war, and women had to fill a wide range of jobs. Automotive machines were in large production around this time to supply countries with vehicles for war and this was the beginning of women in the automotive industry. Fast forward to 2020 and only 13% of the global workforce in the industry were women.
The widely-known quote "well-behaved women rarely make history" is a reminder that those who dare to challenge will often face resistance, but their bravery and determination pave the way for future generations to make even greater strides to close the gap on diversification. With fearless women starting to show their presence in the motorsport industry from 1929.
Take Louise Smith, known as the “first lady of racing,” at the time (1946-1956) she was a novelty as a female driver, however, with her aggressive and fearless driving style she won fans wherever she raced and soon became one of the pioneers of early stock car racing.
One of the first female racing drivers was Hellé Nice who in1929 became the winner of the all-female Grand Prix race at Autodrome de Montlhéry. Nice is recognised as one of the best female drivers ever to live and was one of the first women to race competitively against the top men drivers of her day.
Up there with the best, if not the best, must be Michele Mouton who competed in the World Rally Championship and in her career earned numerous victories and finished as a runner-up in the drivers’ world championship of1982. Michele went on to become the first president of the FIA's Women & Motor Sport Commission in 2010 and the FIA's manager in the World Rally Championship in 2011.
We can’t not mention Mary Wheeler MBE who in 1962 founded The British Women Racing Drivers Club with the aim to encourage and promote women in all forms of motorsport.
One of the more recent and biggest movements in motorsport comes from Susie Wolff who made history in 2014, when she became the first woman to take part in a Formula One race weekend in 22 years. In 2016 Susie launched her own initiative “Dare to be Different” an initiative that aims to drive female talent -inspiring, connecting and showcasing women within male-dominated industries. Susie has since worked in collaboration with Motorsport UK and FIA’s “Girls on Track” initiative which aims to inspire females to see there is a rightful and valuable place for them in the motorsport industry. In 2023Susie was appointed Managing Director of the F1 Academy, the all-female driver category aims to develop and prepare young female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition.
Through the tireless efforts, determination, and grit of these women, they have paved the way towards acceptance of broader equality in the industry.
We would love to see more women in our industry, so if you dare to challenge, show determination to succeed and are looking for a new opportunity, we want to hear from you!