Why is the performance driving arena still such a male dominated world?
Last week, we came across an online meme of a young woman standing proudly in front of her new white Nissan. Juxtaposed with the same picture was the car, nine minutes later, perched on the median with the front bumper hanging off. It was definitely good for a chuckle, given she had the same cheerful expression in both pictures. This breeds the classic stereotype, one of the top 5 myths of performance driving, that women can’t drive as fast as men. I however, wholeheartedly disagree with that – women are equally fast drivers.
The truth is, perceptions are changing. Spend enough time around the track or various car-related events and you’ll start to notice a change in the demographic. Another thing you’ll notice is that these ladies can drive and often develop a lot quicker as performance drivers than their testosterone-driven counterparts. Our instructors often find that women tend to understand their limits better, and as a result, are able to apply instruction more effectively than men.
This may be due to the fact that most men think they are driving Gods out of the womb and often overestimate their abilities. We’ve seen first-hand how men will typically start off the day faster just because they are pushing the limits harder than the women. However, after midday, they are surpassed by women who have learned to better and more consistently apply their new skills. It’s a very interesting dichotomy and one we look forward to testing on video more scientifically in the spring.
So then, why is the performance driving arena still such a male dominated world if it has nothing to do with women lacking the skills? A look at professional motorsports quickly reveals the lack of female representation. It is encouraging to see the likes of Danica Patrick, Katherine Legg and Sabine Schmidt starting to break through the gender barriers, but ladies are still few and far between. I can only imagine the untapped potential that exists when we are effectively eliminating 50% of the available talent right off the bat; it’s very possible that the second coming of Ayrton Senna is out there somewhere, but they may never get the chance because they are missing a Y-chromosome. I don’t think it’s a lack of desire either, as there are plenty of women who are interested in cars and performance driving.
That leaves me with really only one hypothesis – it’s still not a societal norm for women to embrace the performance driving culture, very much like how women’s hockey in Canada wasn’t the norm until ten or fifteen years ago. It will take more trailblazers to defy the current cultural standard, who will not just join the scene, but rather will actively participate to start a real movement. I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen in the last five years already, and I hope it continues as the community will be better off for it. So ladies, if you are reading this, get out and drive. Show us boys what we’ve been missing!