Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Crunching some uncomfortable numbers - Looking deeper into F1's gender problem

Published by Mr. C

With a selection of UK-based F1 teams and Formula One Management having reported their gender pay gap data for this year, we can look beyond the headline figures into some of the additional detail provided.

Alongside mandatory statistics, each organisation must produce an accompanying report. Within that report businesses are encouraged to add a supporting narrative where they can argue why a pay gap is present and what they intend to do to close it in future years. All of these reports are listed and available to download on our initial story covering the gender pay gap in F1.

Split the difference

Watching an average race weekend it is easy to believe women have little-to-no representation within Formula 1, but what about behind the scenes? Perhaps a majority are working in the background away from the spotlight. The following chart shows the percentage of men and women employed in F1 based on the reported makeup of staff within each company.

Percentage of men and women employed in F1

Rather despairingly the data paints a particularly poor picture with nearly 90% of all people employed in F1 teams being male. F1 Management buck the trend a little, but even in a non-engineering focused outfit the split is stark.

Role models

It is painfully obvious that relatively few roles are given to women in F1, but dig a little deeper we can further explore what areas those who have managed to break into the sport work in.

Pay quartiles are calculated by splitting the rate of pay across a business into four equal sized groups, ordered highest to lowest. The male/female split of each group is then calculated. Using this knowledge it is easy to see if women are holding high paying positions such as in management or perhaps filling lower paid and perhaps less challenging roles. Here is how the F1's pay quartiles shake out.

F1 gender pay quartiles
Upper %Upper Middle %Lower Middle %Lower %
Force India Formula One Team6.
Formula One Management22.616.320.753.3
McLaren Racing14713
Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix541116
Red Bull Technology35621
Renault Sport Racing94524
Williams Grand Prix Engineering7.25.811.924.6

This table nicely highlights that even where women are employed in an F1 organisation, their roles are primarily limited to the lowest paid positions. McLaren are by far the worst example with just 1% of the highest paid seats being held by women.

Bonus stage

The structure of bonus pay presents some wildly fluctuating figures across the sport. Force India list tiny 0.05% mean and 0% median differences between men and women. Red Bull meanwhile state a -2.5% mean difference, suggesting women earned more in bonuses than their male counterparts in Milton Keynes. Williams too paid women more in bonuses, the Grove outfit posting a massive -25.1% mean difference.

Renault notably, didn't pay team members a bonus at all as they only managed to finish 9th in the championship. Harsh perhaps, but at least in terms of gender equality, a fair approach.

After that, the numbers start to get more extreme. Mercedes and McLaren both posted whopping 59% and 58.6% median differences respectively. Presumably personnel at the top of the tree are cashing in massive benefits and the majority of people in those roles are male.

Engineering giants

Whilst it has been obvious for a long time that F1 is severely imbalanced when it comes to subjects of diversity and equality, it is handy to have at least some data to back up those assertions. Crucially this is just the beginning. What happens next and how those involved move forward will be interesting to watch.

There is opportunity for all forms of motorsport to stand up and become a source of aspiration for women interested in a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. F1 is perfectly placed not only to inspire and motivate people, but also to fund, train and support those from backgrounds less commonly associated with engineering.

What is missing right now is assurance from those involved in these reports that they intend do anything about it. Many are quick to recognise the work of independents such as Dare to be Different, indicating that they are aware that a change needs to be made. Yet while all have the financial muscle to help, commitment to do so is notably absent. In F1 it's always someone else's problem.

All content in the series Gender Pay Gap 2018