‘Motorsport is seen as a man’s world': The racing driver encouraging girls to get into F1

A British racing driver has visited Whitchurch High School in Cardiff to encourage more girls to consider a career in motorsport.

Jessica Hawkins, who is a Formula 1 Driver Ambassador for Aston Martin and a James Bond stunt driver, hopes to inspire the next generation to pursue a career in what has traditionally been a male-dominated sport.

Ms Hawkins said: "I often meet people and they say, 'I wish I knew about that when I was younger, I would have loved to have worked in motorsport'...It’s very much viewed as a man’s world, and that’s not the case at all. Females, women are just as entitled to work within motorsport as men, and we are trying to get that across.

"It’s no secret that as a driver, motorsport is expensive and it takes a lot of outside help to be able to continue my dream. And I’m not here to tell everyone that they need to be drivers...What we’re doing is opening up a world.

"If we can ignite a fire in the younger generation, maybe they will find a new passion today, who knows?” added Ms Hawkins.

The event aimed to show women and girls the career opportunities available to them within motorsport.

Aston Martin and the Girls on Track programme (a joint initiative between the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile and Motorsport UK) were behind the event, which saw Cardiff schoolgirls test out F1 race simulators, take part in a pitstop change challenge and attend expert-led motorsport workshops.

One student who took part in the event said: “I’m very grateful because some people won’t get a chance like this in life, especially because I’m really young.”

The visit was also in partnership with ITV's new series, Driving Force, hosted by Judy Murray OBE, which features interviews with some of the most successful female athletes of all time and the driving forces that motivated them.

Alongside the show, Driving Force will be touring schools and sports clubs around the UK and introducing them to the pioneering women featured in the show. By offering workshops in a range of sporting fields, the tour aims to "reframe sports for women by inspiring the next generation." 

Driving Force's Director, Rosemary Reed, said the Cardiff visit was not just about showing young girls they can be drivers, it is also about opening their mind to a wide range of opportunities related to motorsport – from mechanics and engineers, to sport physios and more – that are sometimes considered 'male jobs'.

"We are trying to educate and show the variations of different positions that are available to girls," Ms Reed explained.

"Whether that be as a driver, or behind the scenes as a sports psychologist, or the press agents, sports agents… We’re looking at different roles for girls who wouldn’t normally even consider these roles."

“We want girls to be able to consider going into any job role that they want to go into, and to be shown what’s available."