F1 Breaks the glass ceiling and announces the first female Managing Director of an F1 team

January 27, 2010

The announcement that the Sauber team’s new managing director will be Monisha Kaltenborn, marks an important landmark in the history of F1. Although there have been a few female drivers in the past, the stereotypical female role has been either holding the umbrella over the driver at the start of the race, standing on the podium in a swimsuit or in the sixties and seventies holding the stopwatch to capture their husband/ boyfriend’s performance around the track. More recently a number of design and engineering roles have been taken on by women such as Lisa Lilley, Shell Technology Manager at Ferrari and Kirsty Allan (a graduate of the Cranfield MSc in Motorsport Engineering and Management) who works in the composites area at WilliamsF1. However in the management area there has been a lot less evidence of female capabilities in F1. The position is pretty similar in other male oriented sports such as football, where Karren Brady was one of a small number of senior female managers, as MD of Birmingham City, she is now supporting Alan Sugar on The Apprentice.

At Cranfield we have our own International Centre for Women Leaders, which runs the Female FTSE, a benchmarking study which looks at Female membership of corporate boards. One of the senior researchers, Dr Ruth Sealy, advised me that there are only 4 female CEOs in FTSE 100 companies, and so we still have some way to go, so let’s hope F1 won’t just stop with Monisha.

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