#TIL: Women are bad drivers- or are they?

By Sreelakshmi R.

Source: https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/car-designer-gm623488616-109368851

There exists a stereotype today that women are poor drivers. This thinking is perhaps evidenced by the statistic that female drivers are 17% more likely to die from car crashes. But the real reason may be more surprising and less obvious: cars are simply not designed for women as drivers.

The car is designed to be driven by a “Reference Man”, the assumption of a standard person in body, culture and habits. By implication, the standard is male. Therefore, while crash-testing cars, the dummies used are just scaled down male dummies, not accounting for the physiological and anthropometric differences between the sexes, or even circumstances like disability or pregnancy. In short, an innocuous flaw has contributed to myth-making about women!

With so much chatter around International Women’s Day- 2021, the focus is often on topics like equal pay, or women’s safety, which are important in their own right. But this should not take away from the mundane and everyday biases, or apparent blindness, that percolate right down to creating a car. Designing cars that also accommodate women’s needs will make it more attractive to female buyers, while exceeding the expectations of male consumers, setting off positive economy-wide effects. It also boosts asset ownership and economic participation of women, through avenues like platform driving by women drivers. These ripple effects while increasing female labour force participation, can have an ecosystem impact in terms of women’s mobility and empowerment.

Today I Learnt (TIL) is a weekly series by OMI that brings you interesting nuggets of information that you didn’t know you needed.

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