The FIM Women in Motorcycling Commission, in partnership with the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, united forces last weekend for the first-ever joint conference for Women in Motorsports. Hosted in Vierumäki, Finland, the conference brought together more than 100 representatives from 25 countries across every continent to provide a broader view of what it is to be a woman in sport today.
The historic event was opened by FIM Women in Motorcycling Commission Director, Nita Korhonen, and more than 40 international speakers – including those from outside the motor sport world – shared experiences and expert knowledge during the two-day conference.
The key trends regarding women’s involvement in sport, as well as the evolution of their participation, were discussed and enhanced by inspirational stories from riders, drivers and engineers who have forged successful careers through passion and relentless determination. The motor sport industry and the development of products specifically for women provided an interesting insight into how companies are positioning themselves in the female segment, and a motivational panel discussion from women in leadership positions underlined how it is possible to reach the top, not only in motor sport but also in a wide diversity of federations and companies.
Targeting the next generation of competitors and volunteers was another key topic, as well as the importance of sponsorship, branding, social media and personal positioning. Tiina Lehmonen, one of the founding members of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission and one of the Sporting Co-ordinators for its Girls on Track initiative, talked about the success of the Federation’s European Young Women Programme and the measures in place to help encourage young girls to give motor sport a try.
In addition to a host of riders and drivers, insights from Ulla Kulju, the world’s first paraplegic female rider to race in a circuit racing world championship, as well as a five-time cross country ski Olympic medallist and World Champion, ice hockey and volleyball coaches, federation and industry representatives highlighted the many common challenges faced by women in sport. A number of Finnish regional representatives, as well as the country’s Minister for Development, Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Ville Skinnari, also attended, underlining their support for the progression of women’s sport.
Colombian racer and Women in Motorsport Ambassador, Tatiana Calderón, was one of the inspirational speakers representing the FIA’s Commission. “It was an amazing experience to be part of the first Women in Motorsports Conference, to share the stories, the experiences and the challenges we all have faced and to realise that they are very similar to the two-wheel world,” said the Alfa Romeo Formula One Team test driver and FIA Formula 2 racer. “I had the chance to meet inspirational women as drivers, riders, engineers and team members, among others, and it has been a very productive weekend where we discussed a lot of plans we can put into action to continue making the difference. It was such an honour to represent the FIA at such a great event.”
Leena Gade, another Ambassador for the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission in the field of engineering, also joined the conference, explaining the challenges she faced on her journey to becoming the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, not once, but three times.
Photos: Taneli Niinimaki