Monday, April 16, 2012

Gender Stereotypes in Driving

There has been a worldwide stereotype against females as being bad drivers. From my experience and observations of male drivers throughout the years, I have noticed that most of the time when another driver does something wrong on the road, there is an immediate expectation that this driver is a female. They would say things like “that must be a woman,” or if they say the driver and recognized that she is a female they would say, “of course it’s a woman!” Some males would even make the claim that women should not drive because they are bad drivers.

This stereotype is further extended in the society here when it comes to the choice of the car bought by females and males. For example, I barely see females driving sports cars on the road here in Qatar. Most of these sports cars are driven by males, and the few females who drive sports cars are usually not Arab. This has almost led to gender polarization in the car market in Qatar, where males purchase most of the sports cars. There is an argument that justifies this phenomenon, which says that sports cars need mastery and high skill in driving that females do not have. This is not the only argument the society has created to keep females away form driving sports car. The other reason has to do with cultural acceptance. For many families here in Qatar, it is not acceptable for females to drive sports cars because they claim it grabs attention and can bring disgrace to the family. Some families don’t even allow females to drive at all for that reason.

All these reasons that society creates are made for the purpose of maintaining a patriarchal society. They shape the rules and the norms of the society to keep males in power, and even in driving males want to be the dominant, more skilled, and powerful. This stereotype and prejudice about females driving has been even extended flying airplanes. There is also a stereotype against female pilots as being bad pilots. Some people even get freaked out when they know that the pilot is a female, thinking that it is not safe to fly when a female is given the responsibility of flying the airplane.

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