As the founder of the Women in Motorsport Month campaign, @formulaAMELIA has pushed for greater equality and awareness as to how women are treated in the sport, all while facing targeted harassment. They sat down with ATRL to discuss #WIMM and the current environment for women in motorsports.
November 17, 2021
@formulaAMELIA has faced a disgusting barrage of harassment and misogyny in online motorsports communities. Now, they are raising awareness and standing up to misogyny by founding the #WomenInMotorsportsMonth campaign across social media. Here, Amelia discusses the challenges women face in online communities, as well as the solutions that could bring equality.
What are your main goals with #WIMM? Where would you like to take it in the future?
I want #WIMM to be a time, most importantly, to talk: to talk about the negatives, and about the positives. Our role within motorsport as women is constantly defined in relation to our gender, so for me, it was important to highlight this. In the future, I’d love larger organisations in motorsport to get involved and to help highlight both incredible women, as well as sexism in the system.
Do you feel that #WIMM could have an impact outside of social media?
I’d love it too! After all, I want #WIMM to be a time for conversation, and if that includes people discussing women in motorsport with people in their life, in their day, that’s incredible to me.
We have seen groups such as Females in Motosport and F Series showing support for #WIMM, are there other groups or companies that you would like to partner with in the future?
Those groups are awesome, and I’m so grateful for their support – so many women in the F1 Twitter community love to get involved and help and I really appreciate it. My dream is for the FIA or racing teams to get involved because they’re the most influential organisations in motorsport. They can make the most change. If junior teams could get involved, that would be so valuable, because that’s where grassroots racing happens.
We are halfway through November, what has the response to #WIMM been like so far?
It’s been incredible! It’s so cool to see the growth of this movement and I’m really thankful for the way that people have embraced it; it’s reminded me of how wonderful people in this community are, and how much potential we have to make a change.
How would you describe the way that women in motorsport are currently portrayed on social media?
There’s definitely a huge issue with how women in motorsport are portrayed on social media, and it really contributes to the struggles we face in relation to pursuing careers in the sport and being taken seriously. There are so many stereotypes about women who are fans of motorsport: we’re labelled as ‘stans’, and whilst this isn’t an inherently negative label, it can carry connotations of being invasive or creepy. We’re also assumed to be fans of certain drivers because of their looks, and our expertise is more regularly questioned. Even things like “girls v boys” on F1 Instagram exist: whilst these might not seem like a big issue, they automatically gender fans, as if the default motorsport fan is a man, even though we know that isn’t true.
What are the main challenges that women face in motorsports-related online communities?
I think some of the issues related to misogyny are based on a lack of education and understanding of our struggles. I also think, though, that severe, purposeful sexism goes unchecked far too often, and people with really horrible motives are allowed to exist in our community. I’ve witnessed some of the very worst of the misogyny in F1 Twitter, and a lot of that is very, very dark. There’s a mix of ignorance, misinformation and a small group of people that just have really horrible intentions.
How can we promote healthy conversations about misogyny in the motorsports community?
The most important thing we can do is make sure everyone affected by misogyny feels comfortable talking about it, and that we listen to the largest range of perspectives possible. We also need to make sure that we try to engage in productive debate and create solutions for change. However, there also needs to be a no-tolerance policy for anyone trying to make others feel unsafe. It’s crucial that we believe survivors.
Have you seen any changes in online motorsports spaces?
I haven’t been in online motorsports spaces long enough to provide a blanket judgement on progress, but I do think many people have found communities where they feel safe and welcomed. Unfortunately, the growth in these communities has drawn attention to them, which can lead to people in these communities facing misogyny due to their participation in the sport. Whilst the creation of these spaces is definitely a positive thing, I’m not sure if we’ve achieved anywhere near enough yet.
Are there any specific women in motorsport who you feel set a good example, and would look to as role models for the community? Do you have a favourite female driver?
Some of the biggest inspirations to me are the women around me. They don’t always have the biggest following or the highest-profile jobs, but I truly believe women are the pillars of F1 online communities, and I’ve met incredible people thanks to this sport. My friends remind me every day why I love this sport, and that’s what’s most important to me.
Lella Lombardi holds a special place in my heart in terms of drivers, as the only woman to score in Formula 1. It might seem odd to be so moved by a half-point, but to me, that represents so much: how much we can achieve, and our capability to achieve it.
You can support Women In Motorsports Month by sharing your story on social media along with the #WIMM hashtag.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
One of Ellie’s earliest memories growing up is watching Formula 1 on television with her Dad. She recently graduated the University of Manchester studying Latin and English Literature. Currently, she is interning full time for a major British news publication as a junior editor. Ellie is particularly interested in the marketing and management side of motorsports. She also spends her time singing in choirs and visiting the latest London art exhibitions! You can find her on twitter at @zephyrellie.
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