In the feedback we've had regarding WiMCon, a segment of the community has expressed concern that WiMCon will be “a vaginafest” – like a sausagefest, but with the other gender – with us completely excluding men to make some kind of feminist point. That's not going to happen; that's not our brand of feminism. It is a question of identity as a community – something I have been discussing with an academic who specialises in identity formation in women's groups in sports (yes, she has agreed to let us put her 'women in motorsport' paper up on the site with an interview, but after she has finished moving jobs) – and we prefer to identify as 'feminists of motorsport' than 'women of motorsport' because it's the more inclusive identifier.
I've said it before and I'll say it again – not all women are feminists, and not all feminists are women. With that in mind, we as organisers really do want men at the conference, and are reserving 20% of the in-person attendee tickets for them. There are men who we have interacted with over the years who have been what Prof Michael Kimmel would call 'guys who get it' – men who understand the benefits of a diverse workplace, and consciously work to include women and other minorities in their organisations. The reserved tickets are for those men.
Emma Watson (now famously) invited men to be part of the gender discussion in her speech to the UN when she launched the He For She campaign. In the spirit of that, we're making space for men in motorsport to come and find out what concerns their women employees, colleagues, friends, and partners. Part of the format of the conference is a series of panel discussions after each segment of talks, during which we will take questions from the floor and the livestream via Twitter.
Quick aside: we think you'll love the person we've selected to be our discussion host – she's insightful and intelligent, amazing at hosting, and popular with the fans.
One of Emma Watson's points in her speech was that equality will never be realised in our society if it isn't a value embraced by everyone. We really want to involve the men who embrace equality as a value. We want them to be part of the conversation, because without them we're lost.
The content policy on the panel discussion questions excludes those that reflect a toxic, sexist attitude. For this reason, we will screen conference applications, and prioritise those men who answer application questions in an informed and insightful manner over those who...well, no offence, sexist people, but in general you tend to ask questions that can be answered by Wikipedia, that most simple and approachable of information sources. The conference is about women, and only those who are on the same page as us regarding issues of equality will be given space to ask the experts. Any rape jokes or threats, discriminatory remarks, and other signs of not being 'a guy who gets it' will result in the conference application being denied. That said, the live stream option is available to all, if you would like to educate yourself. If we raise enough sponsorship, male attendees will be sent gift vouchers for Prof Kimmel's books to get an idea of how masculinity and man culture is changing in a post-sexist age.
The VIP/donor tickets will be available to men, without qualifications. If men want to pay £1000 for a ticket that includes a sizeable donation to our all-women scholarship and sponsorship fund, in return for a deluxe gift bag, and lunch with the speakers to ask more in-depth questions, we assume they're a cool guy. Most of the people with real influence in the industry are men who can afford those sorts of tickets, and if the influencers would like to participate with such generosity, we'll be happy to have them! And for the men who want to participate but don't have a grand to blow on a conference ticket and donation, there are regular attendee tickets for them. If they don't have the £250 to buy regular attendee tickets, the livestream will be available on a pay-what-you-can basis. We want men to be part of the conversation.
We have an announcement to make. All of the team spend quite a lot of their spare time googling women in motorsport, trying to find networking and support opportunities. It horrified us to find that there was no conference for women in the sport. A community of intelligent, geeky women, and no opportunity to share academic findings that relate to it?! The travesty!
There's a conference for people who work on the medical side of motorsport. There's an FIA networking opportunity for young racers. There's a conference to discuss technical innovations in the sport. But no academic space for women to have conversations around issues that are pertinent to them.
Thus, we're organising a Women in Motorsport conference in Oxford this August. We've applied to the FIA for their official endorsement, and we await their response. Regardless of the outcome of that application, we're going ahead with the conference, because we want to provide the community with a space to talk about the research people have done.
We want the conference to reflect the needs and interests of the community. Obviously, we have our own ideas, mostly based on things people have said to us thus far. We have asked the people on our mailing list, and received some suggestions. There is still room for us to take a larger portion of the community than just our mailing list into account as we plan this event.
To that end, there is a contact form below. If you would like to be added to the mailing list (we send emails once a month at most) and give ongoing feedback about what you think the conference should look like, enter your email address in the form. If you would like a follow – and have input about the conference on Twitter – enter your twitter handle. Everything else on the form is self-explanatory, and we look forward to hearing what you have to say!