Here’s the facts, not that we needed them. Car enthusiasts are in the minority in the grand scheme of things. In the UK, the top hobby is reading. This year’s list of things we like to do outside of work includes sports, TV, gardening and unsurprisingly having an interest in computers; but in no way mentions being interested in things with engines. Cars, bikes, racing? Not even in the top ten.
While car enthusiasts are in their thousands, with 66 million people living in the United Kingdom alone, they are in the minority. That’s not the scary part though. If you’re a woman who likes cars, bikes, racing or anything with an engine, the percentage drops to under 10%.
In fact, female clients of Footman James make up just 8.5% of the total policy holders. Sat in a room, taking part on a circuit, doing timed trials or at a club event, the number of women at any given car or motorcycle event is less than men, by a significant amount.
If all the ladies that love things with engines gather together, it’d make a big number. Small in the grand scheme of a niche love of motoring, but large enough to have a club or two. After gathering a number of our female clients at the Historic Motoring Awards last month, we thought, should women-only car clubs exist?
There are already a large number of clubs out there that have been segregated to be women-only, from women-only gyms, members’ clubs and online groups.
In our small community, a women-only racing series was launched earlier this year with the aim to inspire the next generation of drivers, all of which must be women. W Series has founders that are men, including Grand Prix driver David Coulthard and engineer Adrian Newey, but led by CEO Catherine Bond Muir. A stepping stone for women to get into Formula One, W Series is a competition where a handful of women battle out for the prize fund for the first season of F1 racing, totalling $1.5 million (just over £1m).
Women in racing isn’t new. On July 4, 1908 Muriel Thompson won the first ladies’ race at Brooklands while a female-only club in motorsport has been going in Britain since 1962. The British Women Racing Drivers Club was founded by Mary Wheeler MBE, with the aim of promoting and supporting women in all forms of motorsport. Mary started the BWRDC in order to represent the interests of women competitors, and a wealth of talented women have been part of the club over the decades.
There are initiatives out there already for women-only clubs, whether it be outside of the car community or already inside it. That said, the clubs that already exist are largely only for motorsport fans or competitors, so that leaves a large hole for those that need a club to turn to outside of racing. So, if there’s a gap in the offering for motoring enthusiasts that are women, surely that means we should set up our own club just for female petrolheads?
Hold your horses, just because there’s a gap, that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be filled.
You may have seen some backlash on the W Series announcement. Men and women said that they weren’t happy with the way that women were treated differently and that men couldn’t be a part of this stepping-stone competition into Formula One; seen by many to be the ultimate racing series in the world.
Added to which, if we don’t let men into the group, where does that leave women in all of this? The car community alone, where we spend most of our time, is one that accepts people, regardless of their gender, with open arms. It doesn’t have to be racing single-seaters. Whether you have an affection for a BSA bike that has seen better days, a BMW that spends more time at a drift circuit than not, or a classic BRM that you take to classic circuits to race, it shouldn’t matter whether you are a woman or not; it’s just cool.
Yes, women should be implored to be involved with the petrolhead community, but should they form their own circle and leave men outside of it? Only you can really answer that.
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