In light of recent research which suggests that women are much more likely to want to improve their driving skills, Izzy from PassSmart takes a look at whether or not men and women are treated in the same way and require the same teaching techniques when learning to drive.
The AA have recently revealed how – when they offered 2,000 free driving lessons to already qualified drivers – only 22% of those who signed up were male. Does this suggest that men are inherently more confident than women when it comes to driving, or does it just mean they’re unwilling to improve?
Here we look at whether or not gender affects the way we learn, and ask a qualified driving instructor about his own experience of teaching both men and women.
Practical learners vs listeners
We may have already (sort of) dispelled the myth that men are better drivers than women, but the fact is that they tend to pass in fewer hours than women, suggesting that they’re more hands on in the driver’s seat.
Bernie Williams, a driving instructor at Kenley Driving School, draws upon his own experience:
“Guys normally have more natural ability when it comes to things such as manoeuvres as in bay parking, reversing and so on.”
But don’t worry girls, he also adds that girls tend to be better listeners and more patient whilst learning. Interestingly, Bernie also told us that – despite the boys skills at manoeuvres – his pass rate generally favours females.
This seems to support the idea that boys are more practical when it comes to driving, whilst the girls tend to be more focused on thinking through the task at hand.
It’s also worth noting that women have a higher pass rate for the theory test, whilst males have a higher pass rate for the practical test.
Not only does this add some weight to the idea that men are practical learners whilst women are more methodical, but it also suggests that they need to be taught in slightly different ways.
Unconfident vs over-confident
Females, broadly speaking, tend to be more wary when they get the behind the wheel, and, therefore, need more encouragement. Males, on the other hand, might be a bit too eager, and might even need to be reigned in a bit. Each approach has its own set of pros and cons.
Being wary, for example, means you’re more likely to take instruction from the professional instructor, but it also means that your lack of confidence could hold you back on the practical side of things. Being over-confident, however, might lead to the learner not taking the correct instruction or trying to progress beyond their current skill set. On the other hand, confidence can help a learner progress much more quickly in their lessons, as they’re not afraid to try new things like manoeuvres, driving at night or driving on a dual carriageway.
Turning the tables – male and female stereotypes
If we turn the question around, we can look at the reasons behind why some learners specifically choose a male or female driving instructor.
Many learners feel more comfortable learning with a female instructor, especially if they’re nervous about taking to the road. This might be due to females being seen as naturally more gentle and patient, but it’s also worth noting that many males, and, specifically, male driving instructors, also have these traits!
Likewise, learners who want to get straight to the point and learn quickly might feel that a male driving instructor is the best option. Again, many female driving instructors also have the traits necessary to get you on the road quickly.
Stereotypes, therefore, might be affecting the way we think about learning to drive before we’ve even reached the age of 17. As we saw when it came to deciding whether men or women were the best drivers, it’s down to every individual case.
Driving instructors have to tailor their teaching techniques to the individual, whether they’re male or female. Giving Bernie the final word here, he backs up this point, saying:
“At the end of the day, all pupils have different abilities. I have no preference whatsoever. They all pass their test in the end.”