Study: Sexist jokes affect women's ability to drive 8 years ago

Study: Sexist jokes affect women's ability to drive

Are women better drivers than men? Though that particular conundrum will have to go unanswered for now*, new research has shown that they're certainly a lot more sensitive to criticism.

According to a joint study from the University of Warwick in the UK and the University of Georgia in the US, self-belief is a important facet towards a woman's performance behind the wheel. After receiving boosts to their self-esteem, women invariably drive better, while confidence-knocking jibes have the opposite affect.

The study required 500 US college students to perform a number of spatial tasks, all of which were chosen to favour men, with teams seperated by gender. Women were found to perform equally as well as men when left alone, while the inclusion of feedback, particularly negative feedback, on their performance caused a dip in performance - not the case with the male group.

Prior research shows that women tend to do poorly on tasks that require spatial awareness,” Dr Estes of the University of Warwick told the Daily Telegraph.

“That is borne out in the common jokes we always hear about men being better at parking and map reading than women. But we wanted to see why that was so we manipulated people’s confidence in our experiments with spatial tasks, and it does seem that confidence is a key factor in how well women perform at this kind of task.

“Our research suggests that by making a woman feel better about herself, she’ll become better at spatial tasks – which in the real world means tasks such as parking the car or reading a map.

"So a little bit of confidence-boosting may go a long way when it comes to reversing the car into a tight parking spot.”

*Just kidding - we're obviously better.