Chip Ganassi launches ‘Women in Motorsports’ campaign

International Women's Day marks the beginning of the "Women in Motorsports" campaign

Castor Chan
10th March 2022
Image credit: flickr
On the 8th of March, Chip Ganassi Racing and PNC Bank unveiled their new initiative to promote further gender equality in motorsports. 

The campaign encompasses an internship opportunity with CGR during the Indycar season for female college students, and a video series featuring female industry leaders in their organisation. According to their statement, the following women will be included: Indycar engineer and mechanic Angela Ashmore and Anna Chatten respectively, Extreme E driver Sara Price, and IMSA lead engineer Danielle Shepherd (who previously helped Scott Dixon win an Indy championship). Speaking on Shepherd, Dixon commented, “I hope that one day, it isn't necessarily a rarity to see women working on the team side of things in motorsports, and I'm happy for Danielle that she can be a leader in this program and share her knowledge with the next generation.”

“We’re excited to highlight the achievements of our team members and share a behind-the-scenes look at their contributions, …which will hopefully help pave the way for female students to develop specialised skills in areas such as racing operations and engineering to information technology and athletic training, to name a few,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. 

Chip Ganassi and PNC have an existing sponsorship link, but this new campaign hopes to inspire further conversation about the need for women as decision-makers and industry leaders in the motorsports world.

PNC’s Head of Enterprise Technology and Security, Debbie Guild said, "While women continue to make inroads in careers dominated by males… much work remains in achieving greater access to highly skilled jobs and equal pay. Cultivating opportunities to build out the next pipeline of female innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders is critical to closing the economic gender gap.” 

The Women in Motorsports campaign will include ‘on-site learning and career-development experiences’ and possible academic credit, in hopes that the internship program will accelerate their career pathways and allow for more opportunities in the motorsport industry. Running out of CGR’s Indianapolis site, accepted interns will be placed into any of the following departments: ‘engineering, racing operations, information technology, athletic training, or other (e.g. technical or operational)’. 

Dedicated initiatives like these will no doubt be beneficial for many young women going forward, and other programs promoting female participation include Formula Woman, Girls On Track and the slightly controversial W Series. Formula Woman is a competition for racers with little to no track experience, with 4 winners forming a 2 car team in the 2022 GT Cup. The Girls on Track UK program is a collaborative initiative between Motorsport UK and the FIA, forming a community for women, hosting webinar series and offering events for young girls between 8-18 in particular. 

The W Series is now near the start of its fourth season, with its second being held virtually during the pandemic. There were arguments both for and against the formation of a solely female junior series; on one hand, it allowed for more women in single-seaters, but it also potentially alienated or discouraged those racers from going into regular series. One example is Jamie Chadwick, who despite winning the W Series twice, could not get enough money to proceed through junior championships and has sparked rumours of stagnation.

This internship will bring more attention to Indycar and racing in the States from young girls, and the earlier that they are inspired to start gaining an interest in the motorsports industry, the better equipped they are for their futures. What Chip Ganassi Racing and PNC Bank aim to do is encourage more females into the technological side of motorsports, giving them the STEM opportunities that will allow them to showcase their talent and accumulate a more competitive skillset. 

It also comes at a good time, with Drive to Survive having introduced a global and more diverse audience to racing. With motorsports being such a male-dominated sphere for so long, this is a good step in the road for more gender equality and a foot in the factory door for many aspiring women.

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