Image of a red Ferrari on a race track with green grass in the background.

Banning F1 Grid Girls is not an Act of Feminism

Banning F1 Grid Girls is NOT an Act of Feminism

F1 grid girls will no longer be part of the F1 grid, starting in the 2018 season. From the outside this looks like a positive move. No longer will women be objectified for the world to see at the beginning of every F1 Grand Prix. A victory for feminism you might say. I think not.

Feminism is About Choice!

The whole point of feminism is that everyone should be free to do whatever they want without judgement. If you want to wear makeup wear makeup, if you don’t then don’t wear makeup. You shouldn’t be judged for doing something you enjoy (as long as you’re not hurting anyone).

This includes women who are paid to stand on a Formula 1 grid. I wonder whether anyone bothered to ask the F1 grid girls what they wanted? If they found it degrading or objectifying? Or if they enjoyed being grid girls.

According to some of the women interviewed by the BBC, it would seem that they weren’t asked. One part-time grid girl said that she was disgusted with the decision and that she was upset that Formula 1 had give into the minority to be politically correct. She also said that her job was to interact with the crowd as an advertisement for sponsors, which she really enjoyed, not just to look pretty.

A former grid girl said that F1 could have made some changes to the role, potentially by including men as well. And I think she makes a great point.

Alternative Solution

Instead of scrapping F1 grid girls, why not make it more diverse, by including people from all ethnicities and genders? Why not include people of all shapes and sizes from different parts of the world? I think they’ve missed a chance to make Formula 1 a really inclusive place.

While I’ve been writing this post it’s been announced that ‘grid kids‘ will be appearing on the F1 starting grid instead of grid girls. Whilst it’s great that the future stars of F1 will get a taste of the atmosphere at a young age, it still doesn’t solve the issue of a lack of diversity in motor racing.

I know that there are drivers of lots of different nationalities in F1, but from the outside looking in, it seems to be a very ‘white’ sport. Consider this, Formula 1 didn’t have a black driver until Lewis Hamilton joined the sport in 2006. Tennis had it’s first black player in Althea Gibson in 1956 and the first time a black player was capped for England was Viv Anderson in 1978. Do get what I’m saying?

Only 5 women have ever competed in the sport as well. I think that bearing this in mind, the Formula 1 grid could potentially become a less inclusive place.

Banning F1 Grid Girls is NOT an Act of Feminism in teal and red text against a dark purple background below an image of a red Ferrari on a race track with green grass in the background.

Get Girls into STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Early

It is positive that the owners of Formula 1 are trying to remove objectification of women within the sport, but I can’t help thinking that this is a knee-jerk reaction to the President’s Club scandal.

Claire Williams, currently the only female team boss in F1, said she hoped F1 could “attract more females into the many roles available to them in the industry“. I think her intentions come from a good place but getting rid of F1 grid girls alone, won’t attract women to other roles within the sport.

I think she has been lucky, in that F1 has been part of her life for a long time. Her father, Sir Frank Williams, founded the Williams Team in 1966 before she was even born. So motor racing was the norm for her growing up. Many girls don’t grow up in that environment and aren’t encouraged to take an interest in STEM.

If you want to get more women into the motor industry you need to start getting girls interested in STEM from an early age. I’d like to know whether the money that will be saved by having ‘grid kids’, rather than paying grid girls is going to be invested in getting more women into F1?

So How do we get Girls Interested in STEM?

There’s no simple answer, I’m afraid. I personally think that we need a big culture change before we see big numbers of women in STEM careers. We need to make sure that girls get the chance to develop their STEM skills through play (here are some great toy suggestions). They need to be encouraged to explore outside, to ride bikes and be active. They need the freedom to work out exactly what they like and who they want to be. Not every girl will want to be a F1 driver, or a scientist or an engineer and that’s totally fine. But it’s important that they get the chance to work it out for themselves.

Do you agree with my view that getting rid of F1 grid girls goes against feminism? I love reading your comments, so let me know what you think 🙂

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Comments 4

  1. Great, thought-provoking article! Like you, I’d love to see all the roles within F1 more diversified. Grid girls and guys; male and female drivers, mechanics and designers and so on.

    It’s so important to encourage young girls to see every career as possible (without closing any off) and show them as many great female role-models as we can.

    1. Post

      Thanks for your comment. I was a bit worried about posting this as I wasn’t sure how it would come across. I’m glad you managed to get the point I was trying to make. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. I wrote a post about this too, but my opinion is different to yours. I agree about getting more girls into STEM careers, but I don’t agree that feminism is about choice. It’s about equality, and that includes considering the context in which people make choices. I can’t speak for grid girls as individuals or for their personal choices, but I do think we live in a culture where as women and girls society conditions us to believe that our principal value lies in our looks, and that there is status to be gained in being seen as beautiful. Therefore many women will choose jobs where they are presented principally as decorative objects to be admired, because for women that is seen as being a high status role. The fact that this has been freely “chosen” therefore doesn’t mean, in my opinion, that we shouldn’t question what makes it an appealing choice.

    1. Post

      You make a very good point. I’m glad that it’s encouraged a debate and I agree that we should question why people make certain choices, in particular women who go into such professions. But regardless it’s still their choice to make, just because you or I wouldn’t choose that career, doesn’t mean it’s a bad career. Banning them is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, we need to be teaching girls that they can choose to be something else if they wish at a younger age.

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