Gender Differences in Driving
Instructions for Report 1

    Table of Contents
    Summary of Cara Luceyās Report:
    Gender Differences in Driving Norms
    E-Mail Postings on Gender Differences in Driving (G7 Students):
        Mr. Shintani
        Brandi Ashby
        Mary Elizabeth Pacheco
        Wilfred Lee
        Brisaacs (November 1997)
        Mr. Shintani
    Results from Usenet & the Web
        The Stereotypes of Women Drivers
        Age and Gender Differences
        Masculine & Feminine Modes of Driving
    Results from ERIC & Uncover
        Risk for DWI
        Gender Differences & Peer Influence


Gender Differences in Driving Norms
By: Cara Lucey, G7

Cara Luceyās report concentrates on how norms, stereotypes and social expectations affect driving behavior. She began by explaining the definitive differences between the three terms. Norms are described as relatively usual and acceptable behaviors. Cara feels that norms, stereotypes and expectations all have an impact on our reactions and actions while driving. Certain "patterns of thinking" allow for the stereotype that women are more submissive and introverted when it comes to verbal reactions to other drivers and while driving as passengers with a male driver. According to Cara, this type of thinking has accelerated a norm that women are or expected to be less aggressive drivers. Interestingly though, assertive driving by women may be viewed as aggressive. This probably because as Cara states, "women drivers are expected to drive conservatively."

Ms. Lucey has found statistics that support that aggressive driving has increased over the past years and that males are the majority of this type of driver. Psychologically, the social norm has attached a stigma to male drivers as being aggressive and inconsiderate. For those men who drive submissively, I suppose they are considered by men who drive aggressively to be driving like women. Cara feels that the aggressiveness of drivers also exists elsewhere in their lives, generating psychological damage.

Cara then collected data from sixteen individuals regarding their individual philosophies, anger and compulsiveness. Though she feels that this test is not clinically valid or able to prove gender differences in driving, she found that the "female subjects had expressed awareness that their moods and other external sources had an effect on their driving behaviors." According to the experiment, though she was unable to determine the amount of effect gender has on driving behavior, Cara feels that it is a focus that should be expanded upon.


Mr. Shintani suggests that in order to investigate the weight of gender on driving behavior, we must consider the biases that may underlie studies. Women may tend to answer more freely and openly to questions regarding aggressive driving whereas, men may be less truthful wanting to be be inclusive of the societal norm. Mr. Shintani feels that questions should account for gender differences. The main issue of Mr. Shintaniās point of view is that any study dealing with gender differences in aggressive driving should be "genderless." Because this may be difficult, can it ever be confirmed that aggressive driving can be gender specific? Certainly there are individual differences in driving and perhaps even gender differences, but I think that there must be many factors to consider when studying this possibility. If we find a pattern of gender differences we should study whether it is also age specific because gender norms have a lot to do with age and experience. I donāt feel that it is just a matter of whether the driver is a man or women that will affect driving behaviors.

Based on societal norms, it would be simple to associate passive driving with women and aggressive driving with men. However, men are not more physically or psychologically capable of driving better than women, therefore, I donāt think that men are more capable of aggressive driving. If we accept the idea that women are more capable of productively expressing their feelings, then we could assume that women are not as capable of aggressive driving. Then, if we assume that men are not able to effectively express their feelings, then perhaps aggressive driving is their way of self- expression.

Brandi Ashby feels that aggressive driving is not gender specific in that women are just as capable of aggressive driving behavior. She feels that "men are more aggressive," but women are not exempt from this type of driving. In fact, Brandi thinks that it is those whom we do not suspect to be aggressive drivers that are probably the ones that we need to be concerned about. She also stated that she read that women are becoming more "aggressive behind the wheel." I think perhaps that women were just as aggressive before, but have maybe become more overtly aggressive in their driving behavior. It could be that women are noticeably more assertive and because of this are being labeled as aggressive.

Mary Elizabeth Pacheco relied on the social norm that men are more aggressive drivers than women. However, she did not know of any research that could support this ideal and felt that it is worth researching. It would be interesting to investigate cases of aggressive driving by women and see whether they are characteristically similar to what society perceives as the norm for women. Gender alone cannot be responsible for the identifying aggressive drivers. Rather, personality and environment are keys to understanding particular aggressive driving behaviors.

Wilfred Lee pointed out that he thought that aggressive driving was not gender specific. If we followed societal norms, we would assume that men are the more aggressive drivers and women more passive. I donāt think that we can attach norms to driving behavior since it is an individual activity based upon personality and environment. What is aggressive driving to one may not be to another. Therefore, aggressive driving behavior needs to be specified through definition. New York has recently done this by initiating a campaign to decrease aggressive driving. Through enforcement and education, this Project Zero program is showing success after its first year of implementation.

Brisaacs' opinion regarding aggressive driving is that it is done by "the people of ethnic backgrounds, women, and older people that can not drive." This statement seems like it is made out of anger and probably written by someone who themselves is an aggressive driver who is not satisfied or accepting of other people solely by the above characteristics. I do not think that this statement has been made intelligently or with any interest in actually furthering an understanding of the aspects of aggressive driving. Brisaacs has made an opinion based upon his/her own beliefs or norms.

Mr. Shintani responds to Brisaacs' e-mail realizing that "this person has a few deep rooted problems." Brisaacs response was personal, unintelligent and difficult to respond to in that it deals with a generalization that is based upon what seems like his/her personal experiences. Brisaacs response is unfortunate but only one personās narrow opinion. It would be interesting to know why he/she feels this way. What has this person experienced or what was this person raised to believe?


After searching Usenet and the Web I was able to find postings that related to gender differences but had difficulty finding information on gender differences in driving. The postings on gender differences talked about stereotypes and the relevance of them in relation to research findings. Looking at other generationsā reports and Dr. Drivingās site, I came across several points of interest in the discussion of gender differences in driving.

THE STEREOTYPES OF WOMEN DRIVERS: From Male Conducted Research and Analysis From My Perspective
By: Christine Tomooka, Pyschology 459, April 1994

Christine Tomookaās report focuses on how stereotypes of women affect the perception of how they drive. She goes into depth on the historical acquisition of the submissive stereotype and how it relates to the notion of "how women got the stereotype of being poor drivers." Though Ms. Tomooka  feels that after her research, women are actually better drivers than men, she goes into depth of how women have fallen into this generalization. If we look back at women's societal position, we can see how that ideal has passed on to a preconceived notion of how women drive. But, according to Christine, "being a woman in today's society, I know that not all women are delicate and many are good at making decisions in crisis situations." It is unfortunate that women have always been making intelligent decisions and ideas and that they have not always been recognized for them.

Christine looked at several studies that though there may be a high correlation between men and womens self perception of driving, the actual ability to drive well is equal among the sample. I would assume that their are gender differences in driving in that it could be supported in a study that could determine that there are physiological differences among genders. If studies were to discover that men utilize different parts of the brain more frequently than women and vice versa then we could possibly differentiate between gender specific traits. For example, if we could correlate the ability to better multi-task with men, then that could have an effect on their driving. Perhaps we would discover that women are physiologically more able to focus on one task or person in their environment specifically better than men while men are able to observe all aspects of their surroundings at one time. In relationships, women feel as though some men just donāt pay attention to them in conversations because a womanās idea of attention is to focus solely on the other person, making eye contact and actively participating in the conversation. Whereas, if men utilize the part of their brain that allows for multi-tasking, they are able to communicate effectively while doing other things.

Both men and women are capable of being "good" drivers. I donāt feel that women will drive poorly just because some men perceive them to. Like the "blank slate," we drive according to how we are taught, what we are taught, what we perceive to be proper and safe and how we are socialized. The best thing about driving behavior is that it can always be changed.


This was one paragraph found on the web summarizing Experiment Aging Research 1993. It examined results from the MMPI, discovering gender differences in one area of Masculinity-Femininity and age differences on the scales of Neuroticism, Extraversion and Agreeableness. According to the summary, younger men and women had "significantly higher scores on the Neuroticism and Extraversion scales." From these results and in reference to gender and driving, it would be likely that teenagers and young adults may be more prone to "reckless" driving. But, hopefully, as they become older, the results on those scales will change. As far as gender differences in Masculinity-Femininity, this probably continues the notion of male-female stereotypical behaviors and expectations.

By: Dr. Driving

Chapter 14 from Dr. Drivingās site offers his point of view on masculine and feminine types of driving. According to Dr. Driving, the feminine style is safer and the masculine style is more physical, requiring control. He also makes a point that when he "drives like a female," he is only "simulating a female driving mode." This is important because he drives according to how it makes his passenger feel. His goal is to create a safe feeling environment and changing his natural mode of driving is possible if the intent is important. Women may be mistaken for driving in the masculine mode when they are driving assertively. Unfortunately, assertive driving by women can often be misunderstood as aggressive driving. Dr. Driving offers a good point in that aggressive driving attracts aggressive behavior, emotions and reactions.


Searching ERIC I came across several abstracts on gender differences. However, though not all were related to gender differences in driving we can see how studies on gender differences could account for specific driving behaviors and stereotypes. Of the article abstracts I came across, the following was the most applicable to gender differences in driving.

Farrow, James A. and Brissing, Peter 1990. Risk for DWI: A New Look at Gender Differences in Drinking and Driving Influences, Experiences, and Attitudes Among New Adolescent Drivers. Health Education Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 213-21.

A group of 343 tenth-graders was studied measuring demographics, family characteristics and influences, drug and alcohol use, perception of driving skill, and personality factors. Females used drugs/alcohol more often. Males used the automobile more to enhance self-efficacy. Few significant gender differences appeared in analysis of risky driving while intoxicated situations. However, female attitudes toward DWI appeared more socially acceptable. (SK);

This article seems interesting in that it states that "female attitudes towards DWI appeared more socially acceptable." This would not follow the gender ideal of the "female type" of driving. The article found few differences in the likelihood of risky driving but I think that this would more have to do with age and driving since other studies conclude that overtness through driving behavior is more common among younger men and women.


Rienzi, Beth M.; and Others 1996. Gender Differences Regarding Peer Influence and Attitude Toward Substance Abuse. Journal of Drug Education, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 339-347.

To investigate gender differences in acceptance of substance abuse behavior among adolescents, 968 students were administered a questionnaire to assess their perceptions. Results show that both genders felt that boys would be more approving of teenage substance abuse. Most students were disapproving of a teenager driving after drinking. Other results are reported. (RJM)

This article looks interesting because the questionnaire administered to teenagers revealed that those asked felt that drinking and driving was not right. This shows that teenagers, regardless of age, understand what is right and wrong. Rather than excusing teenage behavior as age related, we should target the peer pressures that approve unacceptable behavior even when they know it is wrong. This article looks like it shows that the view that drinking and driving is wrong is not gender specific.



Mining the Generational Curriculum || My Home Page || My Report 1 on: Gender Differences in Driving || My Report 2 on: How Music Affects Drivers || My Report on the Psychology of Newsgroups || My Bookmarks File || My Icons File || Our G8 Class Home Page || Our G8 Index of All Reports || Dr. Leon James Home Page