We Love Male Allies

Episode Transcript

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. A very common question that I get as a racecar driver is what's it like to be a woman in racing? And I totally understand this question right to the outside looking in. And just in reality, racing is very male dominated. There are very few examples of women who are competing. And so naturally, people want to know, what's like, How's it different? And it's an interesting question, because for me, I've only ever been a woman in racing or girl and racing. So to me, it's normal. It's all that I know. But I know, that's not the question they're asking. And they're trying to figure out, well, how am I treated differently? How do I perceive things differently? And again, the reality is, I don't know what it's like to be a guy in racing, I think it would be quite luxurious to be a guy in racing, if I'm honest. But that is neither here nor there. Because I'm not one. So for some quick highlight answers to that question. You know, there are definitely some good things about being a woman in racing, I think that my successes are celebrated that much more and make that much more of a big splash. There's a lot of press. And it's very clear that it's inspirational to young women and girls and other women who are also pursuing male dominated industries, or whatever it might be. So that's really cool. Now, there are also some not so great things, you know, I haven't always felt like I fit in with the community. And as a kid or a young teenager, it was harder to have friends at the track, or when I was 12, I had cooties. And so you just kind of feel like an outsider for a little while. And another downside is that when women don't do well, or when I have had a bad race, or if it's taken a little longer to get used to a series, it kind of enforces these negative stereotypes about women drivers. And the last thing that I want to touch on here that I think is a little challenging for women in racing, is that I personally feel that we have to work harder to gain the respect from the team. And from the community. This certainly isn't the case with every team, but it's something I've experienced a lot. So that's a high level answer to what it's like to be a woman in racing, there's obviously a lot more depth to this, and everyone has their own experience. This is my experience. This is how I've walked through the world of racing. So I recognize that other people might have more positive, more negative, it is totally a personal experience. And I could talk about it forever. But we're not here forever. So anyway, one element about being a woman racecar driver that I hadn't really thought about before I got into it. But it became a really crucial part of my success was how I was able to develop strong alliances with men that I was working with. And male allies are super important for many women across industries. Even if we're in an equal playing field, most industries are not equitable. And it becomes really important to be able to lean on the people who help you out and allies are important for any underrepresented group. So my own personal experience is that as being a woman in a male dominated space, and it's been really satisfying to look back and see who I was able to develop a really trusting, respectful and compatible relationship where they were able to help me I was able to lean on them, we were able to address some of the discrimination that I had been feeling. And I wanted to take this episode to discuss the tangible, very real things that they did that made me feel like I was being supported in a really helpful way. And my goal is that by giving these specific examples, listeners can potentially get ideas about how YouTube can be a really good ally. And I also want to highlight the five people who did these actions and really celebrate them to celebrate what they did that was very impactful for me, and to recognize them. Because I really believe that positive reinforcement will help help these actions become more and more regular to more and more people to get that much closer to have a more equitable playing ground. And I'm grateful. So thank you to all of them in advance. I do want to preface this that I have worked with a lot of people over my 21 year career. And there are plenty of other people who have also been great to work with my dad, my brother, my boyfriend's that I had while I was racing earlier, coaches trainers, there are definitely other people who have been great allies. There have also been some people who have been really unpleasant to work with, but that's not what we're here to discuss. But again, I wanted to share these five people in these five instances that were most impactful for me and had the biggest effect in the moment and then also what I look back on. So the first way to be a great ally is to invest in women. And this could be financially literally like investing in women who starting companies, women who are doing things, or emotionally or energy wise. And the first person that I want to talk about did just that he invested in me when no one else wanted to. And this was my first go kart coach and mechanic Glenn Butler, Glenn Butler was a world champion go karter himself, and when I was about 12, and I had won a local track championship at Oakland rally race Park, apparently and I do not remember this but apparently my parents were trying to find an established you know, national touring go karting team who I could run with, and they would transport the go karts, they would work on the go karts, because my parents knew that they were limited in their capacity. And apparently, no one wanted to work with me, no one wanted to work with a 12 year old girl. And apparently, Glenn was at one of the races with the team that he was with the Birel, the Birel car team out of Canada. And he I don't know how my parents started talking with him. But they expressed that they were looking for support for me and they weren't able to find it. And he chatted with me after one of the races and he saw the fire in my eye. And he offered to help. And he offered to, you know, bring us into that team. Because he saw my talent, he saw that I was a little rough around the edges, but that that I had the talent there to be able to mold that into a winning go-karter. And sure enough, we worked together for three or four years, and we won so many races. And we were really great. And I'll talk about Glenn more in future episodes as well, because there are just so many incredible learning experiences. And he, he was the first non family member to really invest in my development and helping me get better and helping to coach me and being tough with me, but being so, so warm, and he just wanted to share the winning feeling with the driver he was working with. And it was just such a special relationship. And you know, the fact that he invested in me was huge, letting him know that I was moving up to cars and no longer racing go karts was kind of a very sad breakup. But we still keep in touch, he comes to Thanksgiving sometimes. And I'm super grateful for the fact that he took the time and energy to work with me when no one else would. So that's the first really powerful thing to do invest in women. The second way to be a great ally is to recognize discrimination. For the majority of my racing career, I have been the only woman or one of the only women on the track at any given time, although that is slowly changing. And for most of the teams that I have joined, I was the first woman that they had worked with as a driver. So I was there introduction to some of the different ways that women are treated. So I'd like to share one of the first instances where someone on my team spoke up when he saw that I was being treated differently on track. And that was in the legends car series. I raced legends cars in my early 20s. And I had a really great time with it. It was a lot of fun, quick races. I was winning in my division and having a good time. But you know, I didn't notice anything particularly different in these drivers than in other drivers I had raced against. After one of my races, one of my team guys comes into the into the infield, or sorry, into the pits after after the race. And he was like, damn, those guys were racing you hard. And I looked at him and I said, What do you mean? And he said, Oh, I mean, they they blocked you so much more. Some of these guys, when they couldn't pass you. They tried to bump you out of the way but you just held your own. I mean, you're tough out there. And this was super interesting to me. Because, again, for me, this kind of felt like the racing that I was used to I was used to people being really aggressive. But this guy had been watching these racers for years, and he's raced against them himself. And he hadn't seen them be as aggressive with some of the other guy drivers. As some of them were being with me. And he came to the conclusion that they just didn't want to get beat by the girl. And this was so liberating for me to hear because one, it kind of made every pass that I had done in my career seem that much more impressive if it was that much harder for me. But it was something where he told it to the team and then they were able to look at that and it was something I was able to keep in mind. And so because I had this objective external guy telling me and other people around me that the guys were racing me harder. I was then able to take that bit of knowledge to other teams and to let them know hey, or to let my spotters know Hey, I've been told this in the past but apparently some guys won't brace me cleanly because they don't want to get beat by the girl even if it's a subconscious thing and don't get me wrong, there are plenty of racers who have raised me cleanly we've had great battles. This is definitely not everyone. But this kind of dirty erasing can happen more towards women than maybe it would happen towards guys. So I really appreciate that this guy vocalized this and brought it to everyone's attention so that we recognize that there was discrimination. And I got to feel somewhat satisfied that I was holding my own quite well. And then again, it was a tool that I could bring to future team so that we could be that much better prepared to do well. While this guy was the first to point out how I was explicitly treated differently on track and discriminated against. He certainly wasn't the last. And I appreciate every person who has pointed out these differences in how I'm treated in order to try to improve the situation. And that, again, is the the second way to be a really great ally. The third way to be a really great ally, is to not let yourself underestimate women just because they're women. I don't know if anyone else has felt this. But for me personally, if I walk onto a team, or if I'm joining joining a roomful of people, I can feel when I'm underestimated, I can feel when the team doesn't expect that we will be able to win. There's just this energy that you get that's not quite 100%. And someone who did not have this energy that I'm so grateful to have been able to raise for him was Lee Pulliam. So Lee Pulliam is a four time NASCAR whelan all American series champion and he has a team and he's got a bunch of really good people working for him. And I was introduced to him when I was racing in South Boston in the summer during my college career. But I reached out to him after I had graduated and moved down to North Carolina. And I told him that I was interested in running a limited late models, would he be able to put together a program for the Motor Mile Speedway championship? He did. And we got it going. And it was just so incredible, because it was clear that Lee knew that he had really great equipment, it was clear that he knew that he had really great people around him. And I just got the sense that if he was allowing you to get into his car, he expected that you should be able to win. So to have that vote of confidence that my team owner and the people around me expected me to be able to win. It was a huge boost of confidence, especially because I hadn't always felt that on teams I had joined prior and I after that, I also joined teams where it was clear that they didn't think that I would be competitive. And so to have that where it just accepted that I would be good meant that I didn't have to prove it in the same way beforehand. Obviously, on track performance is the most important and you know, I won half those races and we won the championship. So I delivered on the responsibility that I was given. But it was just really great that there was that expectation set, and I didn't have to work extra hard to earn their respect or to prove that I was competitive or to act a certain way that would make them take me more seriously. And because they had the expectation that I would be able to win. I got the sense right away that they were putting in 110% to make sure that we would get to victory lane. And it was just so cool. And I looked back so fondly on that year. So thank you to Lee. Thank you, Matt Taylor, my spotter and crew chief Courtney Crosby and everyone on the lee Pulliam performance team. So very important to not underestimate women. The fourth way to be a great ally is to actively speak up when women are being discriminated against. I've been lucky. I think that this has happened multiple times on multiple occasions, especially with coaches and with meet some team owners. But I was really impressed one year when I was racing k&n west where one of my teammates really spoke up for me and that teammate was Chris Eggleston, we were racing at Douglas County Speedway, which is in Oregon, just south of Portland. It had been a rough weekend for a number of reasons. But we get to the autograph session, which happens before the race and all the drivers line up behind tables and we sign autographs for all the fans. And it's really fun because you get to see the fans they're excited people are more or less really supportive. And they're excited to see you meet their heroes show show their kids that these racers are here interacting with them. I always had a lot of fun with it. So we're at this autograph session and I'm sitting next to Chris Chris had won the championship before in this series really great guy. We were the two older drivers on the team. So I mean older meaning in our mid 20s. But we got along great. We're about halfway into this autograph session and this spectator comes up. I'm not going to call him a fan because his behavior does not warrant him the title of fan so the spectator comes up and he is kind of looking around and he sees me and he just says out loud to people in general. She driving? And of course, because there's a she I say, yes, yes, I am. And then you start laughing. And he's like, Oh, well, I hope you boys got good life insurance if she's going to be on track with you. And to me, this is just such an obnoxious, annoying thing to hear before race, right? Like, I know, it's just a random dude. And he's in the stands, and I'm in the race car. But it's awful to have someone very publicly try to belittle me in front of everyone before race. By using these gross generalizations, I really despise, like sexist jokes and gross generalizations about any group, I just think they're a really unsophisticated way to make fun of people. Like if you're gonna be a total asshole to a stranger, at least be more creative about it. So he does this. And it's like, I'm getting in the zone to go racing. And so it just, it was like a little Pang. It was just unpleasant to deal with. And I was kind of surprised and quite happy that Chris who's sitting right next to me, he looks up at the guy and says, she's actually a really good racer, and signs an autograph for him and sent him on his way. And he the guy didn't have a response. But for me, it was so so rewarding and supportive to have my teammates stand up for me when the spectator was being a jackass for no reason. I just, I really appreciate that. And it made me feel better, it made me feel validated, it made my feelings feel validated, because then you also don't want to be the weak woman who's sensitive to what the fans are saying. But the fact that Chris felt compelled to speak up against that sexism, made it clear that it was not a cool comment. And so I felt a little more justified in my reaction as well. So thank you, again, Chris, for standing up for me. And yeah, it's the more that men can speak up and counter women being discriminated against the each, each time we do that there will be another baby step that is taken in the right direction. The last suggestion I want to make for a way to be a great ally, and I think can be some times the most challenging, is to actively educate the other men that you're working with. When their behavior is discriminatory. I view this as different than speaking up when you hear something because you can call out a stranger, you can call out something that's unfair. But to actively have an educational session, especially with people you're working closely with that you have these close relationships with them maybe set in their ways, actively educating for the betterment of the team and the person you're supporting. Because there are a lot of times when your voice will be louder than ours. I've had a number of people do this. And it's been really helpful. But I do want to bring special attention to my spotter, who I worked with in the K&N West series and in the Pinty series a bit, which is Eric Holmes. So Eric was a multi time champion in the K&N West series, he knew the cars, he knew how to drive them, I had to, you know, be really clear in the feedback I needed. And I know that I pushed him to communicate more with me because I just wanted more information so I could get up to speed. So that was another example of a guy investing and going out of his comfort zone to be able to give me what I needed on the radio. He was also really good at being a mediator and discussing with members of the team when things got heated. And there was a stretch of a handful of races where unfortunately, the the team made several sloppy mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes set us back in practice, sometimes the mistakes forced me to adjust my driving that then later hurt me in the race when we fix these mistakes. And it kind of came to a head when we had one more sloppy mistake that ended up being very dangerous. Something fell off of the car in the middle of a session. And because we had had so many little things go wrong. And we were investing a lot of money in this racing program. I got very frustrated and the fact that this was dangerous, not only to the driver, but also everyone else on track. I got really visibly angry and frustrated and I said that this was unacceptable. And someone on my team turned to me looking all of a sudden super irate and said, stop being a little bitch about it and go see how you can help the team. He wasn't mad that stuff was falling off the car on a live session, but he got mad at me for getting angry about it and called me a little bitch. I was stunned. I didn't know what to say other than you shouldn't call me a bitch. I walked away. I don't remember if Eric saw that or if I told him right away what had just happened. But he recognized that that was an inappropriate way to talk with someone especially the driver who's a paying customer when the team had been at fault and I had been very gracious about everything before then. So Eric felt compelled to go speak with this guy. And he was the objective level headed guy going in. And I think because of his relationship with the team, you know, this other guy really listened to him really heard what he had to say, I think if I had tried to discuss this with him, not only what I've been angry and felt attacked by my own team, but I think that it would be too subjective. And the best way to handle this very heated situation was to have this other person step in, at least initially, before we could then have our own conversation, once things settled, not only did Eric speak up, helped me out, be an ally, and educate the other team members as to what was inappropriate. But it also showed that it was worth fighting this so that we could all be more comfortable so that we could all try to thrive in our environment. And it's touchy, right, especially the dynamic of driver and team. And, you know, I only was there for one year. And so my relationship dynamic is going to be different than that of a long standing member of the team. So it is tricky, but it is doable. And I hope that these experiences helped them in their ability to work with women in the future. So thank you, Eric, for stepping up and having those conversations when your voice was louder than mine would have been. So those are just some examples of how to be a great ally. And I'm really grateful to these guys, as Michael Kimmel says privilege is invisible to those who have it. And so the fact that these guys were empathetic enough, and then compelled enough to speak up, showed me that I was a true member of the team. And it allowed us to all do better. And it made me more comfortable. And, again, because we don't know what it's like to be walking through the world in someone else's shoes, especially someone of a different demographic, we we need to keep our ears open and our eyes open to seeing how others might be treated differently. And again, the whole point of allies is to help others reach their potential to help the whole team thrive at the end of the day at the racetrack. Our joint objective should be to try to win the race. And so if there are things that we can do, and say and improve, that help everyone feel more comfortable and more able to do their job to the best of their abilities. I personally think that's worthwhile. And while I'm discussing this in the context of a racing team, I really believe this applies to every industry and every collaborative group setting. And building these relationships can be hard, I get it, you know, women have to find empathetic guys who have a good relationship with them who are willing to speak up men need me to be comfortable going against the norm, there are the natural synergies, not everyone is going to get along along on this vulnerable personal level. And so it is tough. And I encourage women to keep your eyes out for guys who are more empathetic, who do listen, who are comfortable in their skin to speak up. And to guys, my call to action is to invest in women and support women to point out discriminatory behaviors against us to not underestimate us and assume that we will be capable of what we're doing. It's important to speak up when you do see discriminatory behavior, and to educate the people you're around regularly and to make that active step to help the whole team or group or collection of people thrive. And in my experience, those are some key ways to be a great male ally. Thank you again to Glenn, Lee, Chris, Eric, and all the other guys who have either knowingly or unknowingly been allies. There are a bunch of you, I am grateful for you and thank you. And that's our show. Call to Action for everyone. If you know someone who wants to be an ally or could benefit from having an ally, I hope you'll send this episode to them. It can be tricky, and I want to help out all the guys who want to help us out. I hope you'll rate and review the podcast. Thank you so much for letting me be honest with you and I look forward to seeing you next week.