Men & Women Learning to Drive: What’s the Difference?

(Image Source: Flickr)

While the Suffragettes of the early 20th century, and the rise of feminism in the late nineteen sixties sought to advance women’s equality with men, there are still some significant differences. The glass ceiling for certain types of employment still exists, and despite evidence to the contrary, women are still sometimes treated as though they are worse drivers than men.

It’s Only Theory

Before you can become a driver and gain a full licence, you first have to take the theory test. Women, who, according to the available evidence, are safer drivers than men, and have a 6% higher theory test pass rate, are less likely to pass their driving test the first time round. While theory may not be equal to practice, it does beg the question of why there are not an equal number of women drivers to men passing the test first time.

The Test

While statistics show that women drivers are less likely to be involved in traffic accidents than male drivers, more women fail their test first time around. Given the fact that younger men are involved in the majority of road accidents, it begs the question of why younger women are more likely to fail the test first time than their male counterparts. Insurance companies tacitly acknowledge that younger males are more accident prone than females, by charging the former higher premiums. In spite of the fact that women drivers have fewer accidents, they are still penalised at the test centre.

Driving and Age

Older men tend to have fewer accidents than younger ones, but there is very little difference in this area between older and younger women. The crazy thing about driving tests is, that women over the age of 35 are more than twice as likely to fail their test as men of that age. Older women, who, according to statistics quoted by the Guardian newspaper, are safer drivers than men of the same age, are far more likely to fail the test first time.

Not only do these issues influence the gender divide, they also tend towards the assumption that older women are less capable than men of the same age. The female author of the Guardian article on the differences between men and women drivers says that she failed the test twice before passing. The first failure was, she was told, that she had been too aggressive, and the second was down to the fact that she was not aggressive enough. So is the driving test meant to be about driving skills, or is it now down to attitudes?


While a spokesperson may be either male or female, when it comes to driving and driving tests, that person is more likely to be a man. While men are running the testing system, and speaking for the discrepancy between female and male drivers, it seems they will continue to insist that both sexes are being treated equally, regardless of the actual figures. Despite protests by women’s groups and individuals, the discrepancy remains, along with the gender divide.