Danica Patrick Beats the Boys, Ups Her Game

Danica Patrick

Photo courtesy of espn.go.com

Danica Patrick has been showing for a very long time that women can compete, and win, when playing with the boys. Her four-year career has been full of trophies and triumphs, but her latest accomplishment stands above all the rest. At the Daytona 500 she took a pole and is the first woman to do so. She is also the first woman to clinch a pole in NASCAR’s premier series, the Sprint Cup.

Not only did she beat champion Jeff Gordon, but she left 37 others in her dust as she made her way around the track at 196 miles per hour. This is something that all women can celebrate because every time a woman accomplishes something major like this, it is another giant step in leading to further gender equality.

“I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl,” Patrick said. “That’s how I’ve always approached my racing career. I’ve been lucky enough to make history and be the first woman to do many things. We have a lot more history to make and we are excited to do it.”

The next race is February 24, 2013 and Patrick will be in the front row with Jeff Gordon, who she just beat. Since NASCAR is largely seen as a man’s sport, this is a really big deal.

Women have competed in sports for as long as sports have been around, but only in the last few decades have they actually been recognized. Things like the WNBA have worked to bring more attention to women in professional sports. Of course, the Olympics also recognizes women all over the world for their athletic accomplishments.

In many things today, women are regarded as equals, but at the same time there are many things that women are seen as secondary in. For example, women tend to make less money than men in most professions, but especially those that are seen as men’s jobs. The government is working to eliminate this wage gap, but it persists and likely will for at least a little longer.

When women can get into the men’s arena and exceed expectations, it helps to show that both genders really are not that different. This is not an attempt to promote feminism, but a way to promote the fact that men and women really are not that different in most respects and deserve to be treated as such.

Danica Patrick is not the first woman to beat the boys in something that is seen as a “man thing” but the recognition she is getting for this is sure to set a precedent for women who are professional athletes. Most people can name dozens of NBA stars, but few can name dozens of the best in the WNBA. With continued athletic accomplishments by women, this divide will start to shrink.

Best of luck to Danica as she heads into one of the biggest races of her life. Both men and women will be cheering for her.