The FIA, a motorsport governing body overseeing dozens of international series like Formula One, added a women’s commission in 2009—when the association was over a century old already—to talk about “girl stuff” like, oh, equality in racing. The commission just added Carmen Jorda, who is the antithesis of that.
While varying opinions are helpful, the goal of the FIA women’s commission, on paper, is to “promote the involvement of women at all levels of motorsport” and “highlight where women are successful” to increase participation. Besides the obvious screwup in that we’d never see the latter sentence written about men (it’s not about where men can be successful, because they can be successful anywhere if they try hard enough), Jorda will not help the FIA accomplish this.
Jorda, who tweeted Friday that she was “delighted to ... have the opportunity to represent & fight for women in motorsport,” became a Lotus F1 development driver in 2015. It looked promising. Her stats weren’t the best, but she was a woman, making it one step closer to competition with the men.
But as it turns out, she doesn’t want to compete with the men in motorsports. She doesn’t think women can. Scroll down the responses to Jorda’s tweet about her new role, and it won’t take long to realize that not a lot of people are happy about her being in it. Female Indy 500 qualifier Pippa Mann certainly isn’t.
The women’s commission bringing Jorda on adds to an epidemic that spans far wider than motorsports, especially when that commission boasts of the first female champion in the Australian Rally Championship right on its webpage. Jorda agrees with keeping things generally the way they are rather than fighting a male- and money-dominated institution that disadvantages talented women from getting the opportunities they need to compete, which makes the job much easier for the people in charge.
And this sort of thing is endemic to powerful institutions that want to maintain their misogynist world views. They don’t want real change, so it’s just easier to pay a form of lip service. Instead of finding someone who will fight for what’s right, they find someone who will fight for what they already want.
Rather than fighting deeply rooted problems in how drivers work their way into racing, the International Motorsports Council can just add a women’s series.
It also signals that people with power give Jorda’s viewpoints credit, despite countless women in motorsports disagreeing with her. Jorda is a mouthpiece for people in power who want to keep things just as they are, and she’s now been given more international credibility than she already had.
As a tribute to the newest member of the FIA women’s commission, which had 32 members in 2016, here is how Jorda feels about women in motorsports. From her recent comments in favor of a bullshit all-women F1 variant series that will do no good in helping women to be viewed as equal competitors, emphasis ours:
I believe a women’s F1 championship would give us the chance to achieve our dreams and compete on an equal footing — as in other sports. One day it will happen and it is the right thing to do.
They think because we are driving a car we are on the same level as men which is completely not true because we will never be the same as them. I have had to fight through many things to get to the top of this sport, just because I am a woman, and that is not fair.
From her comments about women versus men in 2015, the year she became part of the Lotus F1 development squad, via ESPN. Emphasis ours:
“Well, I think society has changed a lot in the last few decades,” Jorda told the official F1 website. “You see women in better jobs, managing to have careers of their own in areas that were deemed male for a long time. Nowadays you see women competing in their own championships in most sports: football, tennis, skiing - you name it - and in none of these championships are men and women competing against each other. So the question is: why not have a F1 world championship for women?”
The 26-year-old thinks there is still a negative image attached to female drivers in motor racing circles.
“When I was very young - I had only started racing in go-karts - I had a podium finish and the guy who ended in P3 started to cry. When they asked him why, he said it was because a girl beat him. That’s the reaction of men everywhere in racing - they try to push you down!”
When asked why more sponsors are not pushing for teams to take on a female driver, Jorda replied: “Because they all dream of winning, and they believe that a woman cannot win in F1. That’s why I think a female F1 championship would be the right answer. ...”
Jorda, who thinks women cannot compete against men in motorsports, backed up her comments by recalling when she beat a boy in go-karts as a kid. As a reminder, she will represent other women on an international racing council.
In 2015, a male Sky Sports reporter, William Esler, asked Jorda if she thought there was a danger that a separate F1-like series for women would suggest that women can’t compete with men. She responded as such, emphasis ours:
It’s not a danger, but I really believe that there is a natural disadvantage between man and woman. That’s why in many other sports, men and women, they have separate championships. So I think physically, Formula One, sometimes people don’t realize, but that’s why drivers have to prepare themselves so much, because it’s a really physical sport.
So, from that, we get the idea that Jorda believes that women have a natural disadvantage in motorsports and that “drivers have to prepare themselves so much” for F1. There was no explanation from Jorda as to why she thinks a woman isn’t capable of preparing herself “so much.”
Everyone, meet Carmen Jorda. She’s the newest member of the FIA’s council to improve the participation of women in motorsports, with a say that now has the backing of a huge international sanctioning body that spans all kinds of racing disciplines, and she believes women cannot race against men.
This will make things go swimmingly for the rest of us.