Are cars just a male thing?

The automotive industry has long been considered a male dominated environment but is this still the case in the 21st century? Or are women now playing a more prominent role in an industry that has historically not been known for female participation? The world of car related T.V. shows is driven by BBC’s Top Gear and the current all-male presenter line up has proved to be a winning combination for years. But, back in 1997, there was a female presenter on Top Gear named Vicky Butler-Henderson, who has since gone on to present Fifth Gear on the UK’s Channel 5 broadcast. Unfortunately for her, Quentin Wilson and Tiff Needell, the original Top Gear was cancelled in 2001 which saw the trio launch Fifth Gear the following year. Motor sport has also traditionally been an area dominated by males. In the history of Formula 1 for example there have only ever been five female drivers who have had any involvement, with only one of those scoring points in a competitive race, which was Lella Lombardi back in the mid 1970′s. Rallying and motorbike racing are also very male orientated and while there are females in both of these sports, they are vastly outnumbered by men. But, it’s not just taking part in motor sport that’s male dominated, the spectators at F1 and Superbike races are also largely made up of men. Another common example of the male dominance in a car environment are those instances where you take your car to a garage to be repaired, with the likelihood being your car getting examined by a male mechanic. This is another industry that is almost exclusively male, although there are self-employed female mechanics across the UK who market themselves solely towards the female population. There is one particular area of the motor industry that has seen an increase in the number of females, however, and that’s driving instructors. If you search online or look through any local directory, the chances are you will find an exclusively female driving school in your area. If you speak to people who learned to drive around 20 years ago, they will probably nearly all tell you their instructor was male. This has definitely changed in recent times and has come about partly because there is now a demand for female instructors, with many women feeling safer and more comfortable being taught by a female rather than a male. However, the driving instructor industry itself has opened up and moved away from just being ex-forces and policemen, and people from all walks of life have made the transition to teaching others to drive. There’s no doubt whether you’re male or female that it’s a great feeling to pass your driving test and get out on the open road; but not before you’ve ripped up those ‘L’ plates and rung around for the right car insurance quote. Once you’re out and about in your new car, a whole new debate opens up about whether males or females are the better drivers, but that’s best left for another time!
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