Who does the driving in your family?
Hyundai’s latest commercial has attracted complaints because the man is doing the driving. It that sexist? Or just statistically more likely, asks
When you climb into the family car, who gets behind the wheel? Is it invariably the male – and why? Ladies, if it is your male partner who always does the driving, you’re not alone – even in this more enlightened age when everyone is working hard to ensure the sexes are being treated as equals, it is still the men who dominate time behind the wheel.
International research shows that when partners drive together, men are four times more likely to take the wheel. And other research indicates that in nine out of every 10 households, it is the men who drive.
Why? It’s not as if women are bad drivers – there’s plenty of other research out there that suggests women are in fact safer drivers than men.
And in almost every family situation, it is the mothers who spend a lot of time behind the wheel as they ferry the kids here and there.
But for a family outing or a couple’s trip, the man invariably takes charge. That’s despite the fact that New Zealand is experiencing some change as to who is actually buying family-oriented vehicles.
At the recent media launch of Hyundai’s new Santa Fe seven-seater SUV, the company pointed out that whereas in 2008 female buyers made up just 25 per cent of purchases of large SUVs, in 2018 this has grown to 33 per cent.
Obviously this is likely because these women are mothers, who need the practicalities of vehicles with seven seats. That will explain why seven-seaters now make up 80 per cent of large SUV sales, compared to 66 per cent a decade ago.
But even though change is taking place, it’s still traditional for the male to get behind the wheel.
Actually, the TV advertisement for the new Santa Fe underlines all of that. It’s a fun ad that suggests that thanks to all the comfort and infotainment features aboard the Hyundai, the family atmosphere transforms from very stressful to all sweetness and light.
The final scene shows happy kids in the back, smiling parents in the front – with the husband driving.
Since the advertisement went to air, Hyundai New Zealand has received a complaint about that. The complainant – a male – has told the company in no uncertain terms that it should have been the wife driving the Santa Fe.
It’s likely the advertisement’s producers never even thought to consider which of the sexes should have been driving, and that underlines the fact that in life and society there are certain habits and traditions that seem very difficult to break.
Just as it seems that it is always the man who cooks on the barbecue, fixes things and mows the lawns, it is almost invariably the bloke who drives the family car.
Is that sexism? An affront to women’s driving abilities? Or just something that’s always been done and hardly worth worrying about?
You choose – but couples, please complete any debate about who drives and who rides shotgun before you head off down the road, huh?
It is still traditional for the male to get behind the wheel. Does it matter? And this is a left-hand-drive car, by the way...