WHAT does it mean to be beaten by a woman in male-dominated sport? At first glance most people would say it should mean nothing - the best competitor has won.

I personally hadn't thought much about it until last last year, when I became the first woman to win the British GT Championship. The overwhelming reaction my victory received made clear that the achievement was rare.

Some other experiences have had a similar effect on me.

I've won more than one ''Driver of the Weekend'' award - something to celebrate, no doubt, but tainted by the knowledge that the title was updated only recently from ''Gentleman Driver of the Weekend,'' the traditional term for an amateur.

The watch I received with my championship trophy at the British GT award ceremony - a Blancpain - also carries a thoroughly male-centered history.  Mention racing watches, after all, and who else comes to mind but Paul Newman and his Rolex Daytona?

Although I have never felt too different from male drivers, it's clearer than ever to me that racing and other professional sports around the world must make gender equality their priority.

The question how, or whether, to do so has always bubbled just under the surface.

Recent momentum has merged equality in sports with the broader social fight for equal rights, and rightly so. My British GT victory was an exception to the norm, and that will not change in the sporting world until gender inequality is eradicated from society as a whole.

Growing up on a working farm, another predominantly male realm, I always felt equal and capable. While i can remember the odd puzzled looks from passers-by who saw a girl barely old enough to drive operating a forklift or moving hay bales with a huge tractor, it never bothered me.

Even when I was a child, playing with my little brother, our toys were not segregated based on gender. I would borrow his favorites, he would borrow mine, and we would - for the most play nicely.

Positive experiences and situations like those are the foundation of what we carry into adulthood. I learned from a young age that my gender shouldn't hold me back in my career. If we can teach equality before sports are even in the picture, then it will become a standard procedure later on.

That attitude is why, When I got into motor sports, I had no preconceived doubts about my ability. I was just another driver, there for the same reason as everyone else : to win.

I joined a very welcoming Caterham racing club, whose team treated me with utmost respect.

Sadly, not everyone would have the sports be so open.

Bernie Ecclestone, the former chief executive of the Formula One Group, has never made any bones about his view on women driving Formula One car.

Plenty of other people think similarly. But to say that women drivers would not be taken seriously, or could not compete physically with men, is narrow-minded, sexist and flat-out wrong.

The honor and serving of great and latest operational research on female athletes, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Flick Haigh, the first women racing driver to win the British GT Championship premier class.  


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