The NEOM McLaren XE Team has incredibly female talent in several roles and has driver, Emma Gilmour. (McLaren)

In 2023, McLaren Racing introduced the 60 Scholars Initiative, a programme designed to support young women in STEM and business, aiming to help them enter the competitive and historically male-dominated field of motorsport. Following its initial success, the programme is back for its second year, set to take place throughout July and August 2024.

Programme Details and Eligibility

The McLaren Racing hiring site details that the initiative seeks "to inspire 60 aspiring female STEM leaders through an accelerated course of learning and mentorship." To qualify for the programme, applicants must be women aged between 18 and 25, studying STEM subjects, and based in the United Kingdom.

They should be able to travel to the McLaren Technology Center in Woking, with travel costs within the UK covered by McLaren. The programme welcomes current and past STEM students, whether from university, professional apprenticeships, or sixth form. The eligible fields include physics, chemistry, biology, software, IT, analytics, engineering, mathematics, finance, and design. The deadline to apply for the programme is 24th June.

Opportunities and Experiences

The programme includes events and conferences in July and August featuring leaders from McLaren's major partner organisations. This provides scholars with opportunities to engage with representatives from Google, Cisco, and Deloitte, companies known for their expertise in technology and finance. Senior leaders from these companies will speak at the programme's launch event, offering scholars the chance to network and explore the McLaren Technology Center.

Participants will benefit from a McLaren Racing live immersion, where they will receive career advice specific to the motorsport industry. Additionally, immersions from Google, Cisco, and Deloitte will provide guidance on pursuing leadership roles in STEM fields. Scholars will also have access to the Udemy learning platform to support their skill development and will participate in Q&A sessions with female leaders in STEM.

Impact and Significance

The programme was highly successful in its first year. A female speaker at the wrap-up event remarked, "I wish I had something like that when I was the same age." Another speaker, a race engineer for Extreme E, praised the programme as an incredible way to support up-and-coming female leaders in STEM and motorsport.

Programme Benefits

While the programme does not offer paid hours or guaranteed employment, it provides a unique and elite opportunity for women to gain a significant advantage in seeking employment in both STEM and the motorsports industry. The scholars will have the chance to build valuable connections with industry leaders and gain insights into the latest technological advancements and business strategies in the field. This networking aspect is crucial for young professionals looking to establish themselves in a competitive industry.

Moreover, the exposure to real-world applications and challenges in STEM and motorsport will help scholars develop practical skills and a deeper understanding of their chosen fields. The programme's emphasis on mentorship ensures that participants receive personalised guidance and support, helping them navigate their career paths more effectively.

Addressing Gender Disparity

Motorsport has historically lacked a prominent female presence. An ESPN survey conducted in 2021 revealed that only 38 per cent of employees within the Formula One organisation were women. Individual Formula One teams reported even lower numbers, with Mercedes being the most prominent team, with only 117 out of 1,000 employees female. Other teams reported around nine per cent of female employees, highlighting the necessity of initiatives like McLaren's 60 Scholars in advancing women in the motorsport industry.