Women Drivers

April 25, 2011

I used to date a guy who always assumed the jerk driving in front of him was a woman. It didn’t seem to matter whether he knew it actually was a woman or not. He would simply say in a disgusted tone, “Women drivers!” and shake his head. He’s not alone. I did a search of “women drivers” and found videos of accidents to be among the top listed as well as numerous articles combining the word “dumb” with women drivers.

This memory came back to me when I recently found myself listening to a 20-something young man’s “women drivers” exclamation as we drove around Washington, D.C. And here I had given the next generation credit for not continuing even the most basic discrimination. Women have been fighting so long for more egregious issues like pay equity that hearing this decades-old lament reminded me once again why it is taking us so long to achieve equity in reality, let alone in perception.

A study published in 2007 found that women drivers were actually much safer than men. It reported that “male drivers have a 77 percent higher risk of dying in a car accident than women, based on miles driven.” And yet you don’t hear people exclaiming, “Men drivers!” for that man in front of them who almost caused an accident. I find women still get blamed first until the driver sees it’s a man and then the ethnicity of that individual is the point of attack, not his gender.

Or is that true? It dawned on me that I’m reporting based on my experiences with men drivers, including taxi or bus drivers and tour guides. Thinking back, I tried to remember what women drivers say when met with a bad driver. Of course my mind went blank, so I hopped up and took a poll around the office. The most common response was, “Idiot, get off your cell phone.” Mothers said they try not to swear and one offered what her husband would say, “#%&$* woman driver!”

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t bad women drivers out there, although our lower insurance rates prove we have fewer of them. I’m talking about the public perception of women, generically clumped together as being dumb, bad drivers. If we can’t even get past this not-so-small public perception, how on earth will we ever get past the real discriminations we face every day?

What about you, have you faced discrimination as a woman driver? Have you heard women being blamed for bad driving when it was later discovered the driver wasn’t a woman?

As for me, needless to say, I’ve long stopped dating the guy who blamed women for some idiot’s poor driving.

By:   |   April 25, 2011


  1. Kay Koehler says:

    As an older woman driver I am sensitive to this issue and to the concept that older drivers are the ones at fault…fact is that older drivers are a lot less likely to be using a distracting device when they are driving…although I will admit that it seems to me that some of them (most men, BTW) seem to be overly cautious…especially where driving below the recommended legal limit is concerned.

    But the “rates” support both women and the more mature among us…actuarial tables are more reliable than prejudices.

    Which, alas, are not going to go anywhere.

  2. Beth Stern says:

    When I went to buy insurance for our son, Brendan, I asked how much different the rates would be if his name was “Brenda.’ (They almost doubled for a 16 year old boy being added to the policy.) I was told they would be less but not that much less, that girls were now approaching boys in accident rates. I can assume some of this is due to cell phones, texting and other distracted driving. It’s not a good thing – boys aren’t driving any safer, but girls are driving in a more dangerous way.

  3. clarkp says:

    I guess this company agrees with you:

    No Men Allowed: Bus Company in Argentina Only Hires Women

    “Apparently, the town’s new bus line feels that men are more reckless drivers than women. This is obvious gender stereotyping, but the company believes it’ll make for better service.”

    Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/04/28/no-men-allowed-bus-company-in-argentina-only-hires-women/#ixzz1Kpn7cnw9

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