Kaltenborn endures scepticism to deliver among men

© Ubaid Parkar, 22 October 2012
AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

Monisha Kaltenborn is the first woman team principal in the history of Formula 1 but that wasn’t the thought that first popped up in the 41-year-old’s mind when she was appointed in the role at Sauber.

Peter Sauber handed the title to Kaltenborn, who had been functioning in that position for quite some time without the official nomenclature, ahead of the Korean Grand Prix weekend and consequently breaking the shackles of a male-dominated sport.

"I've never thought of seeing my position as the first woman (to be a team principal)," Kaltenborn was quoted saying by AFP. "Obviously it is a fact but you don't think of it yourself so I was a bit surprised that so many people took this angle of the first woman doing this."

But she did acknowledge that the appointment would serve to boost the hopes of women coming up in motorsport and also perhaps change perceptions.

"Sometimes it is the people who decide these things who have to just maybe open up their minds, take the so-called risk and just treat that person no differently to a man and I'm sure it will work out," she told Reuters.

An ambassador for the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission, Kaltenborn’s role and responsibilities has now increased.

"What we want to do is to show that the demands which we put on women who have to be on top have to be the same as they are for men," she pointed out.

Kaltenborn’s new position was well received among the F1 fraternity with McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh pointing out that she has coped with the additional challenges well so far.

"Team principals are probably the most sexist, machismo bunch of managers you could ever hope to meet," Whitmarsh told Reuters.

"If you are a bloke and an engineer and whatever I think it's easier," he added. "You come in and bluster your way around like I have done for the last 20 odd years and eventually someone gives you the job.

"In her case, she had to live through that and endure all the sexism and scepticism. I think she's a super lady, I'm really pleased for her," he said.

 

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