By Joy Burgess
Sometimes I forget I’m a girl entrenched in what used to be thought of as a ‘man’s world.’ That sounds funny, I know, but it still surprises me when I’m asked, “What’s it like working with all men?” or “How are you treated as a female working in the motorcycle industry?”
While I’m quick to call out parts of the industry that tend to pigeonhole women into stereotypes (which I recently did in a Woman Rider column, “Born to Be Real”), I’m lucky enough to forget that I’m a woman working in a traditionally male-dominated industry for one reason…the team I work with.
In December I was honored to jump on the International Motorcycle Shows’ podcast The Reserve Tank, and one question I was asked was, “What can men do in the motorcycle industry to be more receptive of female riders?” I had the best example to give them – the Thunder Press team!
For those that don’t know, the Thunder Press editorial team includes myself, Mitch Boehm, and Kali Kotoski (and on the art direction side we have an incredible guy, Chad Cochran, who creates all the beautiful spreads you see…the magazine looks great largely thanks to his hard work).
Let me give you a little background on our team…
Mitch Boehm – probably best-known for his many years as the Editor-In-Chief at Motorcyclist Magazine – has been riding and racing since he was just a kid (read his XR1200X story on page 26). Mitch also co-wrote legendary Malcolm Smith’s autobiography, titled Malcolm! The Autobiography, worked for Cycle World for a spell, did a 3-year stint at Honda R&D, has raced (and won) on racetracks across the country, including Daytona International Speedway, and likely has more motojournalism and motorcycling experience than anyone left in the industry these days. There’s a reason we jokingly refer to him as ‘Yoda!’
Kali Kotoski has been riding for years since he was a teen. He tells great tales of touring the country for nearly a year by motorcycle with his younger brother and camping alongside the road, the kind of stories that make you want to head out for a month of wind therapy. Most people don’t know that he’s pursued journalism in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Israel. With his experience he brings international flavor and unique perspectives that make us all better as a team. And his dry sense of humor, which usually hits outta left field, gives us plenty of health-preserving belly laughs.
Then there’s me. I’m the newest rider and the newest to the motorcycle industry, although I have 15 years of writing, editorial and marketing experience. As someone who’s new, I tend to think outside the box and come up with crazy ideas (some of which are actually good) and just generally get excited about everything because – wait for it – I love motorcycles.
What’s so great about our team – and what I talked about on The Reserve Tank podcast – is how they’ve made a space for me, encouraged me, made me a better writer, reminded me to be myself, and pushed me into doing things I never dreamed I could accomplish. And that’s exactly the type of support women in this industry need. Not because we’re not capable on our own, but because we’re all stronger when we work together and build each other up.
I think that’s the exact thing that makes our team – our triad – so effective. We all bring different things to the table; we work well together; we all respect each other; we all push each other to be better. It’s in that environment that creativity thrives…that’s where the magazine magic happens.
In the end, we’re not just a team…we’re ‘family.’ And family, well, that’s what motorcycling is all about!