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IndyCar racer works with local tech firm to get more women in STEM fields

May 24, 2019
Pippa Mann 600 px
Pippa Mann (Photo courtesy of Jamey Price)

Netlogx’s sponsorship of Pippa Mann’s car in this year’s Indianapolis 500 goes far beyond company officials’ interest in racing and extending the brand of the local information technology services company.

When Netlogx CEO Audrey Taylor met Mann two years ago at an Indy Women & Hi Tech gathering, there was an instant connection. And it went beyond the fact that both are British.

The conversation quickly turned to efforts to get more women into male-dominated industries—including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (often called STEM) fields.

“We realized we had a lot of the same goals,” said Taylor, who serves on the Women & Hi Tech board.

So Netlogx signed on as a sponsor for Mann at last year’s Indianapolis 500 and stepped up that deal this year to sponsor Mann’s No. 39 Driven2SaveLives Chevy entry for Clauson-Marshall Racing.

Pippa Mann and Audrey Taylor

The Netlogx logo will be featured on Mann’s car and driver suit and on the wall of the Indiana Donor Network/Clauson-Marshall Racing suite this month. The sponsorship also will allow Netlogx the opportunity to attend many of the Indy 500 events and appearances with Mann.

In turn, Mann has become involved in Taylor’s efforts, including speaking at Women & Hi Tech’s Ignite Your Superpower event, an event for middle-school girls to discover more about STEM through participation in hands-on experiences and interactions with female role-models. As one of the few women in auto racing, Mann offered a unique perspective. Not only are their few women drivers in racing, there are few women in engineering and other technical jobs in motorsports, Mann said.

“Together, we’re spreading an important message to girls and women—especially those interested in STEM fields,” Mann said. “If you work hard, there are opportunities out there.”

Mann, who wears a pink helmet to draw attention to the fact that she’s one of the rare women in racing, said it’s important for girls and young women to have role models in STEM and other male-dominated fields.

“Being a female athlete is part of who I am, and I want to be visible as such,” Mann said. “That’s why it’s great to partner with Audrey to get this message out. It’s great to join forces with a woman who’s an entrepreneur, a company founder and CEO.”

While Mann said the vast majority of people in the IndyCar Series are supportive of women in racing, there’s still a small, yet very vocal part of the open-wheel racing fan base that opposes women in motorsports.

“The barriers for women in racing aren’t what you would expect. The car and the team don’t care as long as you’re fast,” Mann said. “But there is a small, vocal portion of the fan base that is negative of women in racing. And it’s natural for sponsors to support men in a sport with a male-dominated audience.”

That creates extra pressure, Mann said. And that’s something she thinks women in other male-dominated industries can relate to. “Anytime you come into a field as a minority, you have to work harder because you have to prove those misconceptions wrong every step of the way,” she said.

Mann failed to qualify for last year’s race, but this year she qualified 30th. Mann safely qualified for her seventh Indianapolis 500 on the first day of qualifying this year and didn’t have to endure any of the bump day anxieties that six other drivers went through. On that bump day, one of Formula One’s best drivers, Fernando Alonzo, failed to qualify.

“How Pippa rose from last year makes her story even more inspirational,” Taylor said. “Her story is one about perseverance, grit and determination.”

“It takes tenacity and perseverance to change the landscape of women represented in STEM and the example Pippa continues to set by thriving in a male-dominated profession remains an inspiration to us all,” Taylor added. 

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