Growing Opportunities For Female Engineers In Motorsports
Formula One has long been seen as a male-dominated sport. There is, however, a growing world of female engineers beneath the exterior of motorsports.
EngineeringBecause recently met with and listen to female race engineers, who shared their passion for motorsports engineering.
The path for most motorsports engineers is not always a direct one. Just ask Leena Gade of Audi Sport, who had worked as a lead aerospace engineer, before becoming a race engineer in 2010, eventually leading her team to win the Le Mans 24hrs race a year later.
Leena’s job requires her to ensure the Audi race team gets the best performance out of its vehicles, and the fastest lap times. She is responsible for the cars’ tyres and the team’s fuel strategy.
Leena has just returned from the Monaco Grand Prix. She advises budding engineers to be brave and go out to race tracks to meet engineers. “Make the opportunities you want; don’t expect things to come your way. You have to want to do this job,” she says.
There are diverse careers available. Bernadette Collins, for example, says she began her career as a race engineer with McLaren, but now works as a performance and strategy engineer at the Sahara Force India F1 Team; Gemma Hatton says she analyses car data.
Gemma is responsible for ensuring optimum vehicle performance. Her role is essential to the performance of the driver, as she’s able to see where he is losing time in a race, and where he could potentially gain more time.
Gemma’s advice for aspiring race engineers is to get out there, go to races and speak to race engineers. She also advises searching the profiles of people in the industry on LinkedIn, the social network. Most of all, confidence, she believes, is key to success. “If you look confident, then people will think you belong there,” she says.
Motorsports engineers who spoke with EngineeringBecause all said their interest in racing began in childhood – although they wished they had focused on the sector even earlier. They were also either very good at mathematics, or had an interest in science.
Yet motorsports is not a popular field for women. “The more women that come forward to take engineering roles, whether it be quite high-profile roles like Leena Gade[‘s role], or whether it’s in a laboratory, the better it will be…It will just become the standard,” says the BBC’s Jennie Gow.
“It will eventually become something we don’t even think about…But right now, we are at that tipping point. [It] is really exciting to be involved in engineering when you can feel the momentum,” she says.
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