5 Ways Professional Sports Reinforce Sexism


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Formula One Grid Girls
The grid girl for Romain Grosjean of France and Haas F1 on the grid before the U.S. Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on Oct. 23, 2016 in Austin, Texas. Lars Baron/Getty Images

In December of 2017, Formula One (F1) floated the idea of getting rid of grid girls, the promotional models who stand alongside the track, carry the drivers' name boards and, well, sexualize the sport. Grid girls, opponents say, are an outdated tradition and little more than a distraction. In addition, grid girls reinforce the notion that it's a man's job to drive the car, and a woman's job to admire him doing it. Just a month later, Formula One tabled the decision and said they wanted the grid girls to be more "fully integrated" into the racing experience.

Then, a few weeks later, it made another announcement, on Jan. 31, 2018, this one stating it had decided it was ending the practice of using grid girls, beginning with the start of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

"Over the last year we have looked at a number of areas which we felt needed updating so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport," Sean Bratches, managing director commercial operations at Formula 1 said in a statement. "While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms. We don't believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world."

For what it's worth, past and present grid girls seem relatively happy with the experience. A former grid girl told the BBC in December 2017 that it's a tough job with long hours, but generally, they're treated well by everyone at the track and she never experienced any inappropriate behavior.

In place of grid girls, Formula One introduced a new program, Grid Kids, to make the pre-race ceremony more interesting for fans.

Last editorial update on Aug 8, 2018 05:53:28 pm.

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