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Choosing the challenge

03/08/2019

Delphine Biscaye – a woman in motor sports

 

There are very few women in tech, but there is another area with even fewer women: motor sports. But that is changing at the moment. More and more women drive race cars and the number of female technicians is on the rise as well.

One of them is Delphine Biscaye, Team and Logistics Manager for the VENTURI Formula E Team. Formula E is by design a very progressive sport. That shows in the technology for example in the inverter developed by VENTURI and supported by ROHMs SiC technology. It also shows in the environmental sustainability which is at the core of Formula E. And it shows in the efforts for a larger percentage of women in the sport. Nevertheless, Formula E still has only 5% women´s quota today. Delphine’s team VENTURI is up ahead. There are Team Principal Susie Wolff, test driver Simona de Silvestro and other women working in logistics, marketing, commercial, and media.

 

Women are just as good or better than men

 

But that VENTURI has many female members in comparison to other teams was not a decision by design. When they offer a position, they do not particularly look for women. They just concentrate on finding motivated people with a good team spirit, which are of course qualified. It does not matter whether a candidate is a man or a woman. So VENTURI ended up with women in these important positions, simply because they were just as good – or better – as the men that applied for the same position.

But why are there not more women in motor sports? Delphine thinks this is mostly due to cultural and educational reasons, which are finally starting to change with her generation, and for sure the next one. Women are definitely as capable as men to work in tech or racing, but they need to be made aware of those playing fields. And there is a lack of female role models showing that those jobs are accessible for women on the one hand and offering to identify with a strong female idol on the other hand.

Delphine’s role model is Michèle Mouton, who was a very good rally driver, challenging men back in the days when women were practically not participating in motorsports at all. Today she is president of the Women in Motorsport Commission. She is doing a lot to promote women in various series and shows young girls that motorsport is not a men’s world anymore. Delphine was lucky enough to meet her a few years ago and was invited to a meeting of the Women in Motorsport Commission afterwards.

The way into racing

Delphine decided to become an engineer quite late. After she graduated from High School she went to “preparation classes”, where she did a project with a Professional/Technical High School. In the course of this project she realized she was interested in Mechanical Engineering. So she started her studies at IFMA (French Institute of Advanced Mechanics) in Clermont-Ferrand and graduated in June 2009.

Racing represented the most difficult domain to enter for her as there are very few positions only and it is a male-dominated sector. She chose the challenge and from there she determinedly picked placements and projects in racing, starting with an internship in England at Williams F1.

During that internship she was working on the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) in the Research & Development Department. After she graduated, she got her first job also at Williams F1 as Design Engineer in the Steering, Suspension and Braking Department. Shortly after she started working for VENTURI. First as Design and Development Engineer, working on the Fetish (Sports car Prototype) and then as Project Manager on the electrification of utility vehicles for the Postal Service, before working on the Antarctica (the first electric polar exploration vehicle) and the Land Speed Record Programs. And finally she joined the VENTURI Formula E Team as Team and Logistics Manager.

 

For a growing number of women in motor sports

 

In her career, she only realized once that it could be harder for women: during an interview in her engineering school, after saying she wanted to work in motorsports, she was told that in addition to the very few available positions, it would be more difficult because of her gender. But this statement just pushed her even more into it.

And it was the right choice. Once in motor sports, she has always been very well accepted and integrated. That does not mean she or any other woman in motor sports is getting any special treatment because she is a woman. And that is exactly what they want: They want to feel equal, so they would refuse any special treatment. Not only in that regard, VENTURI proved to be the perfect employer for Delphine: The company is doing fun, challenging and technologically advanced projects. Even before she applied for the job, she expected it to be a great opportunity to work in a smaller and more familiar company: She hoped to learn more things, to have more diversified tasks than in F1 where you become very specialized on one particular subject. She also hoped to be able to extend her responsibilities quicker. And that is exactly what happened.

Delphine proves that it is possible for a woman to be successful in motor sports. Hopefully there will be a growing number of teams soon, that give women the same chances they give men. VENTURI’s Team Principal Susie Wolff has committed herself to that goal: She co-founded the initiative “Dare to-be Different”, aimed at promoting women in motor sport and which has recently teamed up with the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission to pilot a new educational programme for girls aged between 8 and 18 years old. And which racing series would be better suited for such exemplary changes than the already progressive Formula E?