“It’s because she’s a woman”- Claire Williams points out the sexism she faced while she led her family-owned Formula 1 team.
Williams in 2020 saw a major development in their history, as the family operating the team for several years opted to take an exit from the motorsport last year.
Claire Williams, who was last to reign over the team, explains that her experience as a team boss was rather unpleasant, where often she had to battle against sexism and accusations of nepotism.
“That came up repeatedly: ‘Oh, it’s because she’s a woman’ and I also got ‘she’s only in the job anyway because she’s Frank’s daughter, get her out’. I know that I got that a lot,” she said to the Spectator.
“I don’t care what people think or write about stuff like that when they’ve never walked a day in my shoes, and they don’t know the truth. You can sling as much mud as you like, but it doesn’t stick on me. If that’s what you want to accuse me of, then that’s fine.”
“I was my dad’s daughter, and that was one of the reasons why I was in the job, for goodness’ sake, because we’re a family team and people at Williams wanted the next generation of Williamses to come in and run the team and for the family to be still involved.”
“That was the whole point. So anyone that criticises the fact that I took over from my dad misses the point completely about the importance of family and next generations.”
Her father never wanted her to be involved.
Despite leading the team under Frank Williams’ deteriorating health, he was initially hesitant to let Claire work for Williams but was gradually convinced by her.
“Dad was pretty clear: He was not into nepotism, did not want his children working at Williams. My older brother already had a job there, and he wasn’t that keen on his daughter also working there.
“But fortunately, after about three months of lobbying by the then-head of marketing, dad reluctantly agreed to give me a trial. And then obviously the rest is history. I was there for another 20 years or so.”
“I always just did what I was asked to do, and I would have been happy working for 20 years as a press officer at Williams. It was such a great place to work. It was such a privilege. I enjoyed every minute of it.”