It’s 2019 and more than ever women are taking to life on two wheels. Here in North America, women account for most of this decade’s growth in motorcycling. The Supersport 300 World Championship, part of the WSBK tour, was claimed by Ana Carrasco, in 2018. Laia Sanz is a regular top-10 contender in the Dakar Rally—the world’s most intense and grueling motorcycle race. Women are running World Superbike teams. A woman named Norma Companys is the Director of Events for DORNA which oversees every MotoGP event.
So it is shocking, really, that August, 2019 saw the first ever Women in Motorsport conference hosted by both the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). Those two are the world’s most powerful motor racing sanctioning bodies, and responsible for the general direction of motorsport worldwide.
The event took place adjacent to the recent test of the KymiRing in Finland, which will host a MotoGP event in 2020. The event’s aim was to find a path to bring more women into the sport both on and off track. Notable attendees included Maria Herrera, who is a former Moto3 rider and a current MotoE World Cup rider. She regaled the crowd with racing stories, as did AMA Endurocross champion Sandra Gomez. World Superbike team owner Midori Moriwaki hosted a session on Motorsport Industries and Women.
One simple truth of motorsport is that barriers to entry are high, and the small social hurdles that occur within our society are magnified. It is a material fact that women are marginalized by our sport, one that still uses women as ornaments during racing events, one that still is dominated by machismo. For the FIA and FIM to band together in an effort to bring more of the world’s preeminent engineers, business leaders, riders, and event managers into the fold is a move that should be applauded. My only question is, what took so long?