Can women really love cars? Well, is it really that hard to believe?
The automobile industry has typically been considered a male domain. Women have stayed outside its boundaries. Or at least some believe this is the way things are.
Let’s be honest, whenever a woman expresses her opinion on a vehicle or its mechanics, she is often looked upon as some clueless girl. And even if she is right, her words are not taken seriously until a man confirms the same thing.
Hopefully, this stereotype will change one day, with more women showing interest in cars. Indeed some girls know and love cars as much as men do. Still not convinced? Continue reading.
The history of women and cars
Women have been actively involved in the automotive industry since its very beginning.
Take Bertha Benz, for instance. Deservedly, she is one of the most important female figures in the history of cars. When her husband, Karl Benz, built Benz Patent-Motorwagen – one of the first vehicles with internal combustion engines, she was the one to put it in motion. One day, Mrs.Benz took her children and drove them to their grandmother’s, a few tens of kilometers away. And she made a sensation.
This was the first time someone used a car for personal reasons. Some might say the act was rather silly than logical. Yet, if it wasn’t for her female decisiveness and initiative, maybe the world would never see another Benz vehicle. Ever.
And while throughout most of the history, female enthusiasts stayed in the shadow of their husbands, in the late 1970s, women were finally free to take on the wheel. Female ownership of vehicles became common, and more women began driving without relying on a male partner.
Passion turned into a profession
Now, let’s talk about women who are not only fond of cars but actually chose driving as their profession. There’s been a new wave of female pioneers who have made cars their full-time life — immersing themselves in car culture, racing, and becoming experts in everything that is going on under the bonnet.
It is true that Formula 1 and NASCAR are mainly a men’s thing. But just like anything else these days, women make up the backbone of these races. They are shifting the shape and direction of the events now more than ever. They take on important roles in sports ownership and team management.
Let’s move to the frontline of motorsports, and we’ll see that women make up a greater proportion of competitors than ever before. Women behind the wheel are as aggressive and capable as men. Their endurance and mental training are stronger. And when you ask them why they do it, they would say, “Because I love the feel just as much as he does.”
Female truckers are not a fad, either. Yet, they still get one common reaction to their love for driving. “You should be at home, in the kitchen, with kids. This is a man’s world and a man’s job.” Today, in the US, there are over 200,000 female truck drivers of the total number of 8 million CDL licensed drivers. Since 2005, the number of female truck drivers entering the industry has increased by 50%.
The number of women rocking male-dominated fields is growing. Some attribute that to the rising calls for equal rights and the expansion of feminism movements. But the truth is that none of these trends are against men. It’s just female love for driving. They say the best cooks are men. So maybe soon we can also say that the best drivers are women.
The skill comes with love
The common wisdom is that you can be good at anything as long as you do it with love. This is probably why women have been claimed the gender that’s better at driving.
According to UK researchers, the best driver would be a middle-aged woman who has two kids and works in software engineering.
This may be surprising for some, but it seems like the female gender didn’t expect to see such results either. Only 28% of women thought they were better drivers than men. And only 13% of men thought women were superior behind the wheel. Stereotypical thinking is still in place. But apparently, it doesn’t affect women’s love for driving.
What ignites the female passion for cars?
The reasons why women love cars are diverse. Yet, we’ve identified three common denominators. Cars carry different meanings for women depending on their background, current state, and future plans. Most commonly, the car is:
- A status symbol
“You are only as good-looking as the car you drive”. We have heard this being said by women to the guys behind the wheel. Yet, it is valid the other way around, too. Some women consider their possessions a true personification of who they are. And not a single woman wants to damage her reputation and lose others’ respect. Hence, she will choose a well-known brand that supports her social image.
- A sign of independence
For decades, women have been striving for self-sufficiency. Mothers encourage daughters to get education and develop a broad skill set. And driving is one of those skills that bring a woman one step closer to independence. The car becomes the one thing a woman can rely on. Once she has it, she can be free of any other restraints.
- A tool for adventures
In today’s world, if a girl wants something, she finds her way to getting it done. If she wants to run away, she gets the most suitable car and runs toward a new adventure. The car is not just a utility. It’s a ticket to creating new memories. With her girlfriends, with her lover, by herself. The car she gets will become her companion. This is why it needs to be comfy and durable. High speeds are always a bonus.
What cars do women prefer?
- Bulky 4x4s
A 2013 study conducted by Yoann Demoli, Ph.D., a specialist in automotive offers, examined the behavior of women behind the wheel, particularly in 4×4 vehicles. According to his findings, nearly a third of 4×4 drivers were women.
- Sustainable Compacts
In general, women show more interest in sustainability than men. They follow pollution rates and energy consumption metrics. This is why they want their vehicles to be compact and efficient – for both their pockets and the environment.
- Newer Models
Today, more women are interested in newer cars. In that past, the scenario was exactly the opposite – a woman would inherit her husband’s old car. Today, things have changed. If we consider the female obsession with shopping, then a car is just another new buy… just bigger and pricier. Naturally, it turns out women buy brand new cars more often than men do. They want their vehicles younger.
- The Combo
Some women own more than one car. Similar to a girl’s closet, some girl’s garage can always fit more. Some ladies appreciate themselves a good classic car. To your surprise, not all names in the world of car collectors belong to men.
How should automakers market to women?
To put it into marketing terms, women are a great target for automakers. They are the new drivers – skillful and educated; they love their cars and may even appreciate their mechanics. Women have a deciding vote in a family car purchase and often have the buying power to buy a car of their own. Sometimes more than one. For automakers to succeed in reaching this potential market, they need to reconsider their practices.
For starters, gendered car advertising should stop. Women are no longer just passive figures in the passenger seat. They are the ones in control, behind the wheel. Stop adding children in the back seats, too. A woman’s love for her car extends beyond its function to help her run her chores.
The right way to market to women is to appreciate their love for cars without being gender explicit. A woman can love the same car a man does. Automakers should avoid sexism even in its mildest forms. There is nothing unnatural or twisted in liking cars. No more than loving clothes, jewelry, or art. And since this love for cars has become the main business driver, then automakers should probably take it to heart. Shouldn’t they, ladies?
Now, to learn from mistakes of past advertising campaigns, check out our post on Dodge La Femme – a car that was made for the ladies.