Women drivers, long victims of sexist stereotypes, really are worse at parking than men, European studies indicate.
According to data released recently by Britain's Driving Standards Agency, about a third of women who couldn't pass the driving test last year failed due to an inability to parallel park. In addition, women drivers seem to need an average of 52 hours of instruction to pass the test, whereas men speed through after just 36 hours of lessons.
Additionally, of the 170,000 women who failed their driving tests in 2010 for assorted mistakes like not being able to reverse or failing to use their mirrors, 55,000 failed because of parking, a Daily Mail report stated.
It is not just these statistics that are driving home a stereotypical point. According to recent research conducted at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, with 65 volunteers, women took up to 20 seconds longer than men to park a £23,000 Audi.
Some women claim that their breasts make it difficult to turn around while parking. But scientists attribute the lack of parking skills (and a general lack of spatial skills) to their low testosterone levels. On the other hand, testosterone-charged males have their own problems, as the statistics also show that 40,000 men failed last year's driving tests for accelerating too quickly while another 30,500 couldn't make the cut because they jumped the traffic light.
The current data appear to be backed by research conducted in 2005, by scientists from the University of Giessen in Germany. They too reached a similar conclusion, after testing 40 student volunteers. But the researchers tended to assess the hormone levels in women disregarding menstrual cycles, which produce significant variation in the hormone proportions.
The sexes do use different skills to find their way around, Dr. Nick Neave, a member of the British Psychological Society, told the BBC. Men seem to be able to remember routes without landmarks, whereas women do use them.
So men may be better at finding the car when it's parked in the car-park of a huge shopping center. They do seem to be better at spatial abilities and women at verbal and emotional skills. It may be a generalization but this does seem to be the case, Neave continued.
According to the statistics, the top five driver faults, including forgetting to check right, left and then right again before proceeding at junctions, were common to both sexes.
From a larger perspective, of the 1.5 million Britons who take a driving test each year, this year's pass rate is 50.7 percent for men and 44.1 percent for women, an agency spokesman told the Daily Mail.