Driving through barriers
Updated: Sep 10, 2022
As I write this, it is 23 days away from the year-end SCCA National Championship Runoffs where over 100 of the top amateur drivers will meet and compete to prove who is the best. Mario Andretti, Schumacher, Earnhardt, Hamilton, Senna. All names, idols and legends that typically come to mind when I talk about racing, but not for me. I am reflecting on Lynn St. James and Gayle Baird, both luminaries that have inspired me to push forward and make my own mark on racing. That have paved the way for many women like me.
I find myself reflecting on the challenges for women in motorsport so that I can prepare for our Women On Track initiatives that I help lead and mentor… I also think about how this same challenge has affected my career in business.
Historically, like racing, Customs Brokerage has been a male dominated industry. Through hard work, and good mentors (both female and male), I found opportunities to grow my career and have been formally recognized as an emerging leader. I am the exception, not the rule. It is still evident to me that there continues to be an undertone of male vs female when it comes to business whether it be ageism, stereotyping or disrespect.
If we can recognize it we can overcome it. It was this that ultimately led me to break out on my own, to bet on myself and give myself the opportunity that seemed out of reach. And now, whether it’s on the racetrack or in the office, I often remind myself of some key principles.
1) Have Mentors!
Finding new ways to expand your experience and knowledge is crucial to creating both personal and professional growth. I often look to other mentors to inspire me and help answer questions. We all need teachers in our lives, especially as we grow in an industry that prioritizes competition and gender bias. Learning from successful people, both men and women, has enabled me to approach situations with alternative perspectives and better understand my industry.
2) Don’t be afraid to speak up.
Speaking up is so important. I used to mind keep my mouth shut when I had an idea, or I disagreed. Have the confidence to never let yourself go unheard. That confidence has been instrumental in building my credibility. Confidence is important when it comes to driving your career forward. Know what you deserve, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
3) You do you.
People will always be quick to share their opinions, especially when they see you start to be successful. Don’t let anyone else’s expectations dictate what you can and cannot do
4) Support women in your industry.
Woman-to-woman support is the best way to change an industry that puts a limitation on gender. This means that we, as women, must actively stand up for other women and lead by example. It means sharing knowledge and opportunity. It means pushing forward the labors of our fore-sisters.
Show off your talent and bring results to the table, they are hard to argue with!