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Women Drivers

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Vance: Most fathers teach their daughters to drive. I have you to blame for this?
Eli David: This she learned from her mother.
NCIS, "Enemies Foreign", about Ziva

A (supposedly) long-dead comedy trope/stereotype which maintained that a woman behind the wheel of a car automatically became a danger to life and limb. Regardless of how intelligent and thoughtful a woman was, this trope insisted she would become a Cloudcuckoolander — or worse, The Ditz — the moment she slipped into the driver's seat: incapable of using turn signals, checking her gear shift position, or even looking where she's going. Even parking could become a major challenge.

Any problems — or worse, accidents — she caused would be dismissed with a breezy carefreeness that husbands and traffic cops inevitably found grating, women drivers as often as not blaming the car for operator errors.

Being a male driver on a road anywhere within a half mile of a woman driver was grounds for elevated blood pressure and/or anxiety attacks.

If a male character had a traffic accident or fender-bender in a comedy made before 1970, a woman driver was most likely the cause. And if the mom of a pre-1970 Dom Com got behind the wheel, it was all but guaranteed she'd come home with a crumpled fender and an improbable story that completely exonerated her by shifting the blame to another driver or perhaps a tree which lunged out into the street at her.

Still sometimes used in fiction, often set in the Asian parts of the world and California or Massachusetts; the common joke here is that every time you see a car do something incredibly stupid (as opposed to incredibly dangerous or obnoxious), chances are the driver is a woman. With a high probability of them being Asian.note  It's also very popular in the comments sections of car accident videos on sites like YouTube.

Statistically speaking, women report more accidents to the police/insurance companies than men do. However, the accidents men report are far more serious — women are more likely to claim for scratching a car on the parking lot, but men are more likely to drive past a red light and into a car at 100 kmph. In locales where insurance companies are allowed to give different premiums for men and women, women's premiums will be less than men's, as the overall cost to the insurance company of covering women is actually lower than the equivalent men.

From the late 1940s to roughly the mid 1960s, women did tend to be poorer drivers than men of the same age simply because they usually learned later in life, from poorer instructors (their husbands, rather than professionals), and until the two-car family became commonplace, had less opportunity to practice, as men made more use of the car. Also, before power steering became standard, driving needed a fair amount of upper-body strength, especially large vehicles. Even during that period, though, this trope was at best a considerable exaggeration of the actuality.

The trope has been somewhat replaced by Drives Like Crazy, in which the driving is the joke, rather than the womanhood. See Directionless Driver for another gender-based driving stereotype.


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  • Glaringly present in this 1970s Goodyear commercial.
  • Allstate has recently taken to playing this trope in their commercials with "Mr. Mayhem" pretending to be a teenage girl (whose SUV, of course, is pink) who gets distracted while texting (in one version just from a normal text, in the other by becoming "emotionally compromised" by a text about a boy she likes) and slamming into another car without noticing. Mr. Mayhem seems to quickly be becoming The Scrappy, and with good reason!
    • One of Allstate's commercial defies this trope. It features a woman rubbing the fact that she got a safe-driving bonus check from Allstate in the face of her male companion after he tries to claim that men are better drivers (with the implication that he isn't a good enough driver to receive one).
  • Inadvertently invoked in this commercial for a women only car insurance company. Three women singing about how women are safer drivers and deserve lower premiums, while "driving" a pink convertible is made all the more hilarious by the fact that they don't watch the road, hold the steering wheel (instead, waving their arms in the air in time to the song), notice that for much of the commercial the car is in reverse (watch the scenery going by), and at one point even allow a kangaroo to drive.
  • A surprisingly early aversion is present in Spinning Levers, a 1936 Chevrolet advert for synchromesh transmissions. In it, a driver operates a car equipped with the new transmission while the narrator explains how the transmission works. The driver—whose driving is even more ordinary than what's seen in most of today's car advertisments—is eventually revealed to be a woman. Not once does the ad draw attention to her gender, not even a comment along the lines of "it's so simple a woman can drive it!"

    Anime and Manga 
  • In contrast to all the competent women drivers in Lyrical Nanoha, we have Team Mom, Shamal, who is revealed in the Wolkenritter-centric Sound Stage M4 to be a bad driver. To wit:
    Vita: I think I just heard a car? I wonder if it's Hayate?
    Signum: No, given the sound of difficulty the person has with parking the car in the garage...
    Shamal: Hi!
    Vita: Oh~....
    • Note that she's also a Lethal Chef, so the joke isn't really on her driving but on her inability in everyday tasks.
  • In Maison Ikkoku, Kyoko has a license but hasn't been behind the wheel in years. As Shun puts it when asked to ride shotgun, 'Nothing would make me happier than to die at your hands.' She would have had very professional instruction, but has no seat time without an instructor (in Japanese slang a "paper driver"). Interestingly, her Niece says that she "Drove like a man, and passed lots of cars."
  • Family Compo: Yukari is a housewife who has a driver's license but hasn't actually been behind the wheel in fifteen years. On the one occasion when she does take the car out, she winds up driving against traffic and jumping a barrier to get onto the right side of the road.
  • Subverted in Wangan Midnight, when Yamamoto gives a highly tuned Skyline GT-R demo car with over 600bhp to resident lady Reina Akikawa to drive, his fellow tuner Gaa-chan starts to doubt her ability and Yamamoto's judgement. Reina then proceeds to show complete mastery of the car, no surprise since she has a highly tuned GT-R of her own. In Gaa-chan's defence, that's a powerful enough car that anyone who was used to a regular sedan or compact car instead of a tuner could come to mischief in it very easily, regardless of gender.
  • Highly averted in Over Rev!, a manga similar to Initial D (street racing specializing in drifting), but with Action Girls.
    • Initial D itself double subverted this trope. The women drivers (Impact Blue team and Kyouko Iwase) are reasonably good (much better than Itsuki and the Akina Speed Stars at least), but they are middling-to-low leveled compared to the big guns like Takumi or Keisuke, much less to the old guys.
      • This trope was inverted once in Extra Stage where Team Emperor calls one of their henchmen to challenge Impact Blue team. The Emperor henchman's Evo was crashed halfway when racing against Impact Blue's Sileighty, which succeed the battle.
  • Averted in Ah! My Goddess, all the best drivers/riders in the series (Chihiro, Megumi and Belldandy) are women. Even the American off road racing champion that Aoshima hired in one episode was a woman. The only notable male driver is Keiichi.
  • Subverted in Azumanga Daioh - while Yukari Tanizaki is the most dangerous driver on the face of the Earth, no other women shown driving are depicted this way.
  • For the most part, this is averted in Sound of the Sky, in which most of the female characters that do drive are competent at it, save for one instance in one of the bonus episodes for DVD, in which Kanata nearly crashes into a pillar and ends up driving down a flight of stairs with Yumina panicking beside her. She does know how to drive correctly, in theory; but she's incapable of focusing.
  • Averted in Ronin Warriors, Mia is actually very capable of driving (And is shown driving the team throughout the series and in the second OVA).
  • Subverted in You're Under Arrest!, Natsumi's the only female shown to exhibit this "ability".
  • Another Aversion - Anthy in the Rather screwed up ending of The Adolescence of Utena.
  • Gunsmith Cats is an aversion: the female protagonist, Rally Vincent, is an expert driver who loves powerful muscle cars like her beloved Shelby Cobra. Sure, she wrecks cars like no one's business, but that's because of the insane antics she gets into. rather than her driving ability. The other exception is Riff Raff, who was on the receiving end of Bean Bandit's above diss on her driving. After slugging him in the face (where he commends her for throwing a punch that hurt more than a stun-gun), she promptly proves she's just as good as Rally.
  • Saki is much like Azumanga Daioh in that Satomi Kanbara may be a girl who Drives Like Crazy, but she's the only one shown doing so.
  • Referenced but averted in Appare-Ranman!. Set some time in the late 19th or early 20th century, Chinese immigrant Jing Xialian works at a racetrack where she's constantly told that driving automobiles is something beyond a woman's capabilities, and that her simply getting behind the wheel would be a novelty circus act at best. Despite this, she practices driving on her off hours and is at least as good as any of the male racers she works with, since she ends up participating in a highly competitive race across America and places second just behind the main character himself. Allowing her to be a full-time racer for the team.

  • Bob Newhart's routine "The Driving Instructor" features a woman driver who is treated this way.
  • An Israeli stand-up comedian once pointed out that the main reason women drive worse is actually because men undermine their confidence, and begins to describe in detail how she can try and park normally, but will suddenly panic when a man gives her "that condescending 'heh, woman driver' look" and make her panic and bumble her way through the attempt to park, scratching her car and anything around it on the way.
  • Deconstructed in the New Zealand comedy show Funny Girls in this spoof truck advert.
  • Bennett Cerf quotes a friend in his book, "Laugh Day."
    Mike Frith: What I hate most about women drivers is how they turn out to be men after you've criticized their driving to your girlfriend.

    Comic Books 
  • Seccotine in the Spirou & Fantasio album Le nid des Marsupilamis.
  • A frequent, frequent, frequent punchline to Archie Comics circa 1960. Arch was always afraid of lending Ol' Betsy out to Betty, for fear that she'd "drive like a woman" and somehow destroy it (more). Particularly funny considering Betty eventually evolved into a Wrench Wench and one of the only people who could successfully get Betsy running.
    • Invoked and parodied in one where Betty realizes Betsy's fender is crumpled, and is certain Archie will blame her. Veronica helps her get it fixed. Turns out, Archie did the damage.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón:
    • Exploited by Mortadelo. One trick he has pulled once or twice to shake off pursuers in a car chase consists in disguising as a woman, then using blinkers properly.
    • "¡El carnet al punto!" shows that Ofelia is a terrible driver, going so far off the road that she ends up driving on the city roofs.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Lockhorns still uses this. The real question is: are they newly drawn panels or simply endlessly recycled material from The '50s?

    Fan Works 
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, when the gang crashes on fake Namek in episode 12, it results in this exchange:
    Krillin: This is why women shouldn't drive!
    Bulma: That's rich coming from the Asian!
    Gohan: Well, I'm half-Saiyan, so what does that make me?
    Krillin & Bulma: FIVE!

    Films — Animation 
  • Near the end of 101 Dalmatians, Cruella tries to run a truck off the road because the puppies she wants to use for a fur coat are escaping in it. The truck's driver, unaware of any of this, yells at her for her to get off the road, before turning and muttering, "Crazy women drivers!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played with in Adam's Rib: Amanda is driving down a busy street and arguing heatedly with her husband about the Double Standard, and suddenly pulls over in front of a cabbie who grumbles about "lady drivers."
  • In Child's Play 2, Kyle drives so fast to force Chucky out. Then she tries to ram him, and Chucky grabs hold of the bumper shouting "Damn women drivers!".
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Truly Scrumptious has trouble starting her car, and Caractacus Potts takes notice.
    Potts: If women want to drive motor cars, they should learn to operate one.
  • Viciously subverted in all of the The Fast and the Furious movies; some of the most badass (badassest?) drivers are women, and the men tend to respect them for that.
  • The 2000 remake of "Gone In Sixty Seconds" remake (with Nicholas Cage) makes a two-scene joke of an Asian Woman Driver that was not only horrifyingly bad at driving, but had some pretty destructive misconceptions about traffic laws...
    Asian Driver Woman: [after failing a test at the DMV] It's not fair!! I thought that you were supposed to go faster if someone was following you!
  • Definitely averted (or subverted?) in 1914 silent Mabel At The Wheel, starring Mabel Normand, who stands in for her boyfriend in a car race after he gets kidnapped by the villain (unusually played by Charlie Chaplin)- and, despite his attempts to thwart her at every turn, wins.
  • In the campy B-Movie Queen of Outer Space, our straight-jawed heroes express disbelief that a planet of gorgeous dames could invent the Death Ray they saw destroying a Space Station. The Casanova asks how they could even aim it properly. "You know what women drivers are like!" Even his fellow astronauts look exasperated at that line.
  • A variation with a moped rather than a car in Small Soldiers. Christy drives herself and Alan (and Archer in his backpack) away with the Commandos chasing after them. After they've been dispatched, Alan and Archer invoke the trope.
    Alan: Maybe I should drive us back.
    Archer: Good idea.
    Christy: Hey!
  • Speed plays with this with Annie, the woman who has to drive the bus against all odds when the driver is shot, had her drivers' license suspended for speeding. As it happens, she does great under the circumstances, no matter how crazy she has to drive to stay alive. The follow-up film has her dipping fully into this trope, with her utterly disastrous attempts at passing her driver's test providing the film's Book Ends.
  • The Spy Who Loved Me: Major Anya Amasova is skilled at many things, but Driving Stick is not one of them. For that scene, Barbara Bach was genuinely struggling with the transmission, while all of Roger Moore's snarky commentary was unscripted.
  • Benny the Cab from Who Framed Roger Rabbit calls everyone he passes "lady", even though he is the one who Drives Like Crazy. Jessica Rabbit, however, drives relatively competently for a toon.

  • A joke involves a man coming to work and tell his coworker that he was driving to work and saw a woman on the highway putting on makeup and drying her hair at the same time. He was so shocked, he dropped his razor into his coffee cup.
  • Another joke that uses Discriminate and Switch:
    A: Why can't Helen Keller drive?
    B: Because she's blind?
    A: No, because she's a woman.note 
  • A dialogue between two men:
    Q: What are you afraid of on the road?
    A: Bikers.
    Q: What else?
    A: Soldiers.
    Q: Anything else?
    A: Drunkards.
    Q: What about women?
    A: Oooh! A woman driving is a drunk soldier on a bike!
  • A common insult is to state that someone "drives like an old woman". Despite the fact that many elderly drivers have problems, no one ever seems to say, "you drive like an old man" or "like an old person" in general.

  • In A Confederacy of Dunces, the plot begins because Ignatius' mother crashes into a historic French Quarter balcony, forcing him to get a series of jobs to pay for the damage. He repeatedly complains to her about this, which is made doubly annoying to her as she only hit it because he wouldn't shut up.
  • In The Great Gatsby, both female leads are awful drivers though they both tends more to the Drives Like Crazy. Daisy Buchanan eventually kills someone who runs out into the middle of the road, and Jordan Baker admits to being a reckless driver and doesn't care at all about other drivers. Her irresponsible driving is used as another example of her extreme selfishness. It should be noted that Tom Buchanan is no careful driver either, and the only character who claims to be concerned with road safety is Nick Carraway. The Roaring '20s, huh?
  • Bella from Twilight is this played straight. Though given Bella has had accidents walking through a door, it would be jarring if she wasn't a bad driver.
  • Ephraim Kishon's wife in his satirical stories.
  • Lori's poor driving is something of a running joke in the Aunt Dimity series. She frankly admits to it, noting that the retired mechanic Mr. Barlow had "come to depend on the income he earned banging out the dents and retouching the scratches I tended to accumulate whenever I drove in England." The Range Rover Bill gives her and its replacement (after an accident due to a washed out road) are both canary yellow, with the colour choice said to be intended as a warning to other drivers.
  • Becomes an Invoked Trope in an Ian Fleming short story, when a female agent in Paris tells James Bond that she drives a battered car so other drivers will stay well clear and she can get to work faster.
  • In the Cormoran Strike Novels, Strike is biased against them due to several past bad experiences and knows it. He reluctantly allows his partner Robin to drive him in The Cuckoo's Calling and is surprised but pleased to have his biases challenged when Robin turns to be a hypercompetent driver who has taken advanced driving courses.
  • Averted in Starship Troopers where women are Drop Ship pilots because they have quicker reactions and can tolerate more G-force.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This trope was such a staple of old sitcoms that on at least one occasion, Nick at Nite devoted an entire marathon to episodes featuring bad women drivers.
  • The Brady Bunch: Part of the plot driver in Season 5's "The Driver's Seat" ... eldest son Greg needles his sister, Marcia (who is trying to get her driver's license) over her driving abilities. At one point, her nervousness gets to her and she is unable to take her driver's exam. She later re-takes the test and passes, but Greg still wants to see how his abilities compare to Marcia's. In the end, his theory that women drivers are naturally bad are debunked ... realizing in the end that the Brady household has two careful, responsible teenaged drivers.
  • Zig-Zagged and justified with Britains Worst Driver and its international spinoffs: played straight in that the women are truly terrible, subverted in that the male contestants are no better, subverted the other way that judges are often women drivers who are anything from just fine to bona fide Badass Drivers, Double Subverted whenever the winner happens to be a woman, and justified in that the shows are literal Truth in Television.
  • Canada's Worst Driver: The Canadian version has gone through ten seasons now. So far the 'worsts' are five men and six women (yes, that's eleven winners; Season Eight ended in a tie). Mind the season five "winner" was pretty much the Dumb Blonde brought to life, and the Season 6 runner-up was just as clueless.
  • An old Candid Camera prank invokes this trope by placing a car in a garage door in such a way that the frame of the door is only an inch away from the bumper. Then they had an attractive woman call a mechanic (or some other professional) to help her out before "Her husband comes back and see what she did to the car".
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: In "Scratch My Car and Die", Rob is enamored with his new car and feels unhappy when Laura has to borrow it because the other car is in the shop. While Laura is in a store for less than five minutes, somebody scratches it. The stereotype about women being lousy drivers comes up multiple times from both sides.
    • Sally brings up the stereotype that women are lousy drivers, but she blames it on men designers continually changing where vital things are to bewilder women.
    • Millie insists that Laura shouldn't tell Rob about the scratch because if she does, he'll use it as evidence that women are lousy drivers and Laura will be responsible for shaming their whole sex.
    • After reassuring Laura that the scratch incident could have happened to anyone, Rob mentions that all drivers have problems, even male ones. He then proceeds to reel off a series of incidents he caused that evening that are much worse than anything that happened to the car under Laura's care.
  • For all the stick they give to some people, and despite their Testosterone Poisoning personae, the hosts of Top Gear never have a bad word to say about women drivers. In fact, they even had racing driver Sabine Schmitz coaching Jeremy Clarkson (in a Jaguar) round the Nürburgring, and then trouncing his lap time. Then in a later episode nearly beating his time in a Ford Transit van. Having guest stars like Jennifer Saunders, Billie Piper, Jodie Kidd, and yachtswomen Ellen McArthur (who set the fastest lap in the old car) drive the Reasonably-Priced Car round the track quite rapidly also subverts this one rather nicely.
    • "Look at me, I'm a man in my Porsche... and then suddenly they're overtaken by a Van driven by a girl!" is how Richard Hammond described Sabine Schmitz's driving of the Ford Transit van around the Nürburgring.
    • In one of the episodes after Jodie Kidd's appearance a photo of rock star Jay Kay's Ferrari Enzo was shown after someone wrote "Jodie was faster" on the hood.
    • Cameron Diaz was also the fastest driver in the Cee'd, for all of ninety seconds... until Tom Cruise absolutely demolished her time. It was also revealed before her lap that she was also a rather good stunt driver, with footage of her doing doughnuts with a car while Jezza was her passenger.
    • They've also been pretty critical of when the automotive world panders to or exploits women. On one occasion, Clarkson complained about a poll that asked not who was the best or fastest female driver in the world, but rather the sexiest. Slightly worryingly, James May came in tenth in said poll...
  • Top Gear's rival shot Fifth Gear has Vicki Butler-Henderson (who also used to be a presenter on the old version of Top Gear) happily averting this trope.
  • Mrs. Webb, the student in Bob Newhart's classic "Driving Instructor" routine.
  • Toshiko once accused the Torchwood team of not letting her drive because she is a woman, but it turns out that they barred her from the wheels because she is a lot shorter then the rest of the team, and they don't like to keep on readjusting the driver's seat and mirrors.
    Owen: Look, I've shared cars with women before and I know what'll happen. There'll be an emergency, we are all roaring to go, I jump in, what do I find? Seat's in the wrong position, the rear-view mirror's out of line, and the steering wheel's in my crotch. In the time it takes to sort it all out aliens will have taken Newport.
  • Fiona in Burn Notice has invoked this trope to create a distraction. Michael's monologue mentions taking advantage of other people's preconceptions in order to Obfuscate with Stupidity.
  • Always a goldmine of outmoded gender stereotypes, Home Improvement featured an episode in which Jill damaged a car by continuing to drive with the oil light on. When Tim confronted her about this, she claimed that she thought "it would blink, or a buzzer would go off" if it was serious. In another episode, she touches up a car's paint job with red nail polish.
  • Mad Men is set in the 1960s and sometimes alludes to and defies this trope. One episode featured the junior admen listening to Bob Newhart's Driving Instructor bit about teaching a woman how to drive, Betty onetime comments that Don hates her driving but she learned from her father, plenty of the housewives drive cars (with Betty possessing a Cool Car in the form of a lemon yellow station wagon and later inheriting her Father's black Lincoln), Peggy is entrusted by Don to drive himself and his mistress out of a police station, Joan has a driver's license, and finally we see Lois (the office ditz) drive a John Deere tractor over a guy's foot with no "woman driver" comment (likely because everyone there works and/or lives in Manhattan where driving or owning a car is unnecessary).
  • Modern Family. Gloria gets into several car accidents in one episode and Haley has failed her driving test several times and runs over her father at one point. There's also a pediatrician who sucks but the joke is more based on her being Asian, not a woman.
  • Trina from Victorious although this could be because she's so egotistical that she thinks she's above the rules of the road.
    Cat: Trina, maybe you should pull over if you're going to put on lip gloss.
    Trina: Maybe you should talk less.
    Cat: That's what my dad always says!
    • And then after a driver honks at her...
      Trina: [honks horn] YEAH, I GOT A HORN, TOO, BUDDY! [honks horn again]
  • Deanna Troi developed this reputation. First, she is at the helm when the Enterprise crashes on Veridian III in Star Trek: Generations. Later, she takes the helm just in time for Picard to order her to crash the ship into the bad guy in Star Trek: Nemesis.
    • Parts of the novel Imzadi are set shortly after Generations. In it, Troi gets very tired of being teased with the phrase, "Nice landing."
      • On the other hand, according to the Tech Manual, deorbiting a Galaxy-class saucer section had never been tried before, and it was generally regarded as extremely risky. "Minimal casualties" indicates some exceptional flying.
      • For perspective, in the real world, ditching is considering one of the most difficult and hazardous maneuvers you can pull off, because it involves controlled flight into terrain as slowly as possible, with an already-damaged aircraft. Ditching anything with only a handful of casualties is the mark of an exceptional pilot, to the point that ditching an Airbus A319 (a tiny fraction the size of the Enterprise's saucer) in the Hudson River without killing anybody was considered a "miracle."
    • In the Gateways series of novels, Troi is given command of a small scout vessel as part of a hastily-assembled fleet. Commander Riker gives her what he believes to be an "appropriate" gift upon taking command: a crash helmet.
    • Though maybe it's a Betazoid thing - the pilot flying Voyager in the first episode was a Betazoid, and we all know how well that turned out...
    • Star Trek: Picard S3E10 "The Last Generation" gives Troi one last shot at the driver seat, where she finally manages to avoid running into anything.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Sure enough Q makes the Obligatory Joke on encountering his first female starship captain, who happens to be 75,000 light years off course.
  • Thunderbirds mined this for humor more than once - Lady Penelope in particular was a frightening driver. The plot of the episode "City of Fire" began when a careless female motorist crashes her car in a parking garage and sets the entirety of the world's tallest building on fire. The end of the episode shows her alive, well, and once more driving like a maniac behind the wheel of another car.
    • A later episode of the series showed that Lady Penelope's driving skills had improved since the first time she tried it.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch is given a job driving a rich witch's Porsche. Naturally he comes home grateful he's still alive. Although justified since Sabrina is seventeen and doesn't own a car of her own yet.
    • One season earlier, Sabrina and Valerie both buy a car together. In about a week the car is a complete wreck and Sabrina resorts to buying a magical car that drives itself.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000, while sporking the 1950s driving safety film Last Clear Chance:
    Narrator: Another problem on our modern highways...
    Mike Nelson: Women drivers!
    [Tom and Crow have "Oh no he didn't!" reactions]
  • Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In had a joke about a feminist drive-a-thon being canceled, after all the participants got into their cars and promptly backed in to each other.
  • In The Office (US version) episode "Diversity Day", everyone is supposed to treat the others as the race named on a card stuck to their forehead. Dwight demands that Pam treat him as his new ethnicity (Asian), so he could figure out what it was.
    Pam: Okay, if I have to do this, based on stereotypes that are totally untrue and that I do not agree with, you would maybe... not be a very good driver.
    Dwight: Aw, man! Am I a woman?
  • Lisa Douglas of Green Acres plays this trope straight in an episode where she's forced to go to high school, though her lack of driving skills comes less from the fact that she's a woman then the fact that she's... well, Lisa.
    • Fortunately, the car has an automatic transmission (or, as Lisa calls it, a PRNDLL). Unfortunately, she thinks the R stands for "Right ahead" and the D stands for "Don't go forward".
  • Similar to the Green Acres example, in Bewitched, Darrin tries to teach Samantha to drive and loses his patience when Samantha can't comprehend the letters. Why should she shift in to D when she wants to move forward? Shouldn't it be F for Forward?
    • Darrin had already invoked the trope at the start of the lesson. Teasing Samantha, as soon as they were seated he told her the "important" first step, without which no woman can operate a vehicle: smoothing her hair. He then went on to tell her that in more advanced lessons, they'd cover drying her fingernails while steering with her knees. Samantha didn't much appreciate the humor.
  • Tosh.0 devoted an entire segment to women drivers, specifically Parallel Parking. Two women managed to bump into the neighboring vehicles, one even asking in a bubbleheaded fashion, "Did I hit something?" One teenager who only had her learner's permit, though, completed the test successfully.
  • Shows up in Doctor Who, of all places. In "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe", the 2011 Christmas special, the Doctor lands in 1938, wearing a space suit backwards, and is found by Madge Arwell. When Madge tries to drive the Doctor to the TARDIS, he comments that "We seem to bump into quite a lot of things" when she crashes to a stop. Her excuse: "Well, a lot of things get in the way, it's hardly my fault."
    • It also shows up in a short where it is discussed that Amy once crashed Rory's car into "an unexpected house" and only managed to get her driver's license by blinding the instructor with her attractiveness in a miniskirt.
    • Within days (or quite possibly hours) of the casting announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, there were already jokes online regarding how long it would take her to crash the TARDIS. These were often followed by other fans kindly pointing out all of the times the male Doctors have (nearly) crashed the TARDIS.
      Martha: Blimey, do you need to take a test to fly this thing?
      The Tenth Doctor: Yes, and I failed.
    • In the cliffhanger ending to "Twice Upon A Time", the newly regenerated Thirteen presses a single button, causes an immediate error message and Stuff Blowing Up and finds herself Thrown Out the Airlock, watching a fire-wreathed TARDIS dematerializing before her horrified eyes as she's falling to her death. In fairness, this is entirely in keeping with what her predecessors did post-regeneration; Ten had the TARDIS bouncing around a council estate like a pinball, Eleven started out in a TARDIS that was on fire and crashing, and nearly pitched himself out mid-air over London, and Twelve got the TARDIS swallowed by a dinosaur! For the rest of her run, Thirteen was no better or worse than her previous selves, and in her final episode she was notably the first Doctor in a long time to have the sense to park the TARDIS before regnerating, and to do it outside.
    • Subverted in The Pirate Planet, where it turns out that new Companion Romana (who had both gotten better grades than the Doctor at the Academy and had taken the time to Read the Freaking Manual), was actually a better pilot than Four, quite probably because she had taken the time to Read the Freaking Manual.
  • Taken to an extreme with Lori Grimes in The Walking Dead, who somehow manages to flip her car despite likely being the only person driving on the entire planet at that moment.
  • Addressed by the MythBusters in a 2012 episode. They determined there was some difference between gender and driving competency—on a police driving course, on a scale from 0 to 100, the ten men scored a 79 on average, while ten women scored an average of 71. (The test was done "blind"; the sex of the person driving was hidden from the examiner to eliminate bias.) There was, however, significant overlap (some good female drivers, some poor male drivers), so there is less of a difference than the trope would suggest. What's more, the way points were lost were surprisingly similar — both men and women were almost as likely as each other to exceed the speed limit, for example (in fact, the test showed women more likely to do so).
    • In parallel parking, there was a significant difference once you dug into the numbers; most women parked perfectly but a few panickers dragged down the average while no men panicked but all had a looser standard of "good enough" than the women.
    • Tory will often make cracks about Kari being involved in a driving test (unfairly, judging by what we've seen).
    • Kari was the only one who had trouble driving in snow while going forward, but that had mitigating factors—Kari had no experience driving in snow and was driving a front-wheel-drive car, while Grant had the four-wheel drive vehicle, and Tory had had experience in "drifting" cars through turns which helped him here.
  • I Love Lucy: The first time Lucy Ricardo gets behind the wheel of a car, she tries to make a U-turn in the Holland Tunnel.
    Ethel: Boy, that must have been something.
    Lucy: Yeah... the police said the cars were backed up all the way to East Orange, New Jersey.
  • In a How I Met Your Mother episode, Barney talks trash about "lady drivers" so as to hide the fact that he can't drive.
  • Buffy Summers is notorious for being unable to drive. What is the one phrase from the series that is repeated several hundred years in the future?
    Fray: Wow, Summers! You drive like a spazz!
  • Betty from Hey Dad..! is a spectacularly awful driver, as part of her general characterization as The Ditz.
  • A Saturday Night Live Weekend Update joke regarding a Real Life incident in which a man was charged with child endangerment after not only taking his 8 year old daughter to a bar, but making HER drive home because he was too drunk to do it himself. Needless to say, the poor child very rapidly got into an accident (no one was hurt, fortunately). Then-anchor Norm MacDonald promptly cracked, "This just proves what I've been saying for years. Women can't drive!"
  • In this skit from the Israeli skit show Domino Gross, a student gets a driving lesson from his teacher’s wife, who is filling in for him. She teaches him the ‘women’s method’ of driving, instructing him to drive in a constant state of insecurity, very slowly, change lanes frequently, and basically any checkbox one could imagine in the ‘bad driver’ checklist, telling him that next time they’ll go over ‘accidents and how to tell your husband’.
  • Another Israeli skit show example: a woman tries to back up into the road out of her driveway, goes too far, and blocks another car. The other driver angrily asks, ‘Who taught you how to drive, you dumb bitch?!’ She answers, ‘You!’ The camera pans out and shows he’s driving a driver’s ed car.
  • In the sci-fi sitcom Come Back Mrs. Noah, one of the Bridge Bunnies pilots the rescue rocket sent to retrieve the title character, only to miss their launch window because she floods the engine.
  • In the first episode of Altered Carbon, Takeshi Kovacs is taken by a female chauffeur in a Flying Car to the estate of Laurens Bancroft. When she crashes the limousine trying to land it, it's revealed she's actually Detective Kristin Ortega, who had the driver arrested on a DUI charge so she could take his place in an attempt to find out what Bancroft wants with Kovacs. Justified Trope as she's not familiar with flying that model of car, and it's implied Ortega crashed it deliberately as she has her own grudge against Bancroft.
  • All My Children's Adam Chandler snaps at ex-wife note  Natalie "You drive like an old woman!" when she insists on taking them somewhere. It gets less funny when they get into an accident that kills her and leaves him temporarily paralyzed.
  • The "You drive like an old lady" criticism is used in an episode of Criminal Minds, though interestingly enough, it's a middle-aged woman (talking on a hands-free cell phone, no less) criticizing a middle-aged man for driving slowly after she cut him off.
  • Danish sketch show Finnsk Fjernsyn has one scene where a man makes a perfect parallel parking, walks into a gender-change clinic, comes out as a woman, and promptly drives into both adjacent cars.

  • Is featured in its full sexist glory in the aptly named Sheila's Wheels — a song by the English duo Amateur Transplants, parodying an almost-equally sexist advertising campaign for a women-only insurance provider of the same name.
    If you want to leave your car alive,
    Never let the woman drive!
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic has a song on the UHF soundtrack titled "She Drives Like Crazy" note  which is about (you guessed it) a woman who's a bad driver. But despite this he never says that she's a bad driver because she's a woman.
  • Ray Stevens has the song "The Day I Tried To Teach Charlene Mackenzie How to Drive". Charlene is pretty, but has the great misfortune to be "deaf as a post". Unable to clearly hear Ray's instructions, she steps on the gas, wreaks havoc over half the county, and puts him in the hospital.
  • The last part of "Little Bo Peep Has Lost Her Jeep" by Spike Jones is basically the titular Bo Peep trying to drive a jeep and crashing into a police officer.
  • Chubby Checkers' "Toot" is about his girlfriend's motor scooter.
    Be careful when you hear that little [toot sound]
    Oh yeah
    She don't know how to steer that little [toot sound]
    And though I really love her little [toot sound]
    Oooo oooo
    I've gotta run for cover from her [toot sound]

    Pro Wrestling 

  • The 40s-50s comedy series Our Miss Brooks used this at least once when the titular character drove her own car (which was not that often since her vehicle was usually broken down and in the shop). She got rides to school from one of her students, Walter, who sometimes mentioned how many mistakes his mother made while driving.
  • Alice in The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show is often a scatterbrained driver. She has to do "eenie meenie miney moe" to tell which pedal is the clutch and once drove in between two streetcars, ending up with a "tall, thin Chevrolet."
  • Jeremy Hardy on The News Quiz and Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation sometimes takes on the persona of a patronising sexist twit, with the joke being intended to be at the expense of sexist twits (key sign: putting on a posh voice and referring to "the ladies" or "women of the opposite gender"). Quite common in these routines are references to women putting on their makeup in the rear view mirror, or leaving the shopping on the car roof.

    Video Games 
  • Inverted with Youko in CROSS†CHANNEL, she seems to be able to drive competently while the males make a wreck out of the parking lot.
  • Yuka Suzuki of Racing Lagoon is a lone female racer of BLR, and she's the worst driver comparing to other males. This is subverted for the Queen team, though.
  • Some pieces of Fan Art for Mass Effect depict Female Commander Shepard as this, such as this piece. This is more a joke about how nobody can drive the Mako in a straight line.
    • Averted in Mass Effect 2. The DLC "Lair of the Shadow Broker" features a short section where Shepard engages in a car chase with the antogonist. Apparently, going by the increasing panic of your companion in the passenger seat, Shepard is a terrifyingly reckless driver whether your character is male or female as the two voice actors receit the same lines throughout.
  • Ridge Racer depicts Reiko Nagase as a professional racer driving the Assoluto Fatalita.
  • Ashley manages to crash the bulldozer she's driving right through a wall in Resident Evil 4, but considering she's about to have a head-on collision with the giant flaming truck speeding towards her it's understandable that she swerved to avoid it. It's also quite impressive that a 20-year-old college student could even drive a bulldozer in the first place, and she was doing a pretty good job of it up until this point.
  • Maya Amano of Persona 2 confidently pilots every vehicle the cast comes across in Innocent Sin, citing that she's the only one with a driver's license. She crashes every time. Granted, she's trying to apply a car license to a boat, a blimp, and a submarine. In contrast, Tatsuya Suou (a high school student who explicitly does not have a car license) successfully pilots everything from a motorcycle to a Mini-Mecha, although part of it is rumor magic at work.
  • Subverted in Persona 4 Golden. When the girls are studying for their motorcycle licenses, Kanji (who's too young to apply) wonders whether they're any good as drivers, as does Rise, and even the fairly intelligent Yukiko has some trouble with the material. In the end, though, they pass and are no less competent than the males.
  • Persona 5:
    • Justified with Haru, who is an extremely bad driver that crashes Morgana almost immediately because she's never actually driven before and has no idea what she's doing.
    • Averted with Makoto, who's the best driver of the Phantom Thieves due to the fact that she's the only member of the team who actually got a driver's license. Her Persona even takes the form of a badass motorcycle.

    Web Animation 
  • Referenced in the Homestar Runner cartoon "Halloween Fairstival", where Bubs is giving a comedy act that consists of a mish-mash of bare-bones stand-up jokes:
    Strong Bad: Say, Bubs, your comedy club bears a striking resemblance to the side of your concession stand.
    Bubs: Aw, that's rich. You know something else that bears a striking resemblance to something else?
    Strong Bad: I dunn—
    Bubs: Women can't drive!
  • Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse reveals that Barbie didn't start taking driving lessons until after she got her license, which she lacked during a previous stint as a race car drivernote . She does manage to build a sportscar by herself, though.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Referenced and averted in the DuckTales (1987) episode "Double O Duck"; Launchpad yells at enemy agent Feathers as she tries to run him off the road, saying that "it's people like you who give women drivers a bad name!"
  • Referenced in several Looney Tunes shorts, usually by Witch Hazel: "I had the silly thing in reverse!"
  • Tex Avery's The Car of Tomorrow has a gag about a garage that lifts up so that the little woman can park without crashing into it. Another gag features a car equipped with speaking turning signals; when the woman is about to turn, it goes "Turning left... no, right... no, left..." Interestingly enough, later rebroadcasts of the cartoon on Cartoon Network edited out a couple of the other politically incorrect gags, but the jokes about women drivers were left in.
  • An episode of Disneyland devoted to the future of the freeway had a sequence of humorous suggestions for bettering the nation's highways. The very first one is having his and hers lanes. A car on the hers lane weaves out of control and crashes.
  • Referenced on The Simpsons in an episode where Homer reads a "Motoring Ms.-Haps" cartoon in Reading Digest. Marge tells him off for thinking there is any truth to the stereotype.
    • A parody of The Lockhorns?
    • Also referenced by Krusty the Clown, nostalgic for the days of "time tested jokes about doctor bills and women drivers"
    • When Burns sent goons to run Homer off the street, Homer blamed it on Women on cars and "helicopters".
  • Family Guy.
  • Referenced in Little Rascals. A female teacher is driving her brother, and when she brings the car to a hard stop he comments simply, "just another woman driver."
  • In an episode of The Jetsons, Jane goes in for her driver's license much to the horror of the driving instructor. The car has the standard "STUDENT DRIVER" sign flanked by a couple of barely-noticed decorative frames. When the instructor first sees Jane, he turns a dial, and the "decorative frames" flip to make the car read "WOMAN STUDENT DRIVER BEWARE". After Jane is forced by a bank robber to be his escape vehicle, the instructor professes concern for "that poor creature" — not Jane, but the robber she's driving.
    • Since it's supposed to be the 21st century, one wonders why she didn't learn to drive years before...
    • In another episode, Judy takes driving lessons and is also rather bad. She only gets her learner's permit through what amounts to blackmail.
    • This was a staple of Hanna-Barbera shows, especially the family-centered ones, even until the end of Hanna-Barbera as a separate entity in the 90's.
    • George was confused when the woman in the car ahead of his made random signs that made no sense in the order she used them. She had more feminine meanings for them and berated George for not understanding them.
  • Possibly spoofed in the Johnny Bravo episode "My Date With an Antelope". The reason Johnny's date Carol (the eponymous antelope) can't drive is not because she's a woman (despite one surly cabbie's remark about "Crazy women antelope drivers!"), but because she doesn't have opposable thumbs.
    Carol: Oh, there goes my premium again!
    • In another gag, Johnny crashes while attempting to hit on a woman he's driving alongside. He blames woman drivers.
  • Inverted in Spongebob Squarepants. Spongebob is the terrible driver and his driving instructor is a woman.
  • One episode of X-Men: Evolution had the other characters running in terror whenever Kitty was looking for someone to take her driving. Kitty tries to convince either Scott or Jean to ride with her because she has a learner's permit. It's Jean who shoves Scott at Kitty and runs off. At some point, Professor X tricked Wolverine into riding with her. She made Wolverine fear for his life. Wolverine extracted payback by having her drive the Professor's limo. Of course, it should be pointed out that her driving is likely less because she's a woman and more because she has absolutely no concern for traffic hazards since she's a mutant who can just phase through them, often unphasing too soon and getting random objects melded into the car.
  • Wacky Races: In two episodes, Penelope Pitstop (AKA: "the glamour gal of the gas pedal") unwittingly made the turn left sign while drying her nails. Usually averted, however, as Penelope is still a good enough driver to make it to the top three places in several races.
  • In the "Road Apples" episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show, Mrs. Pipe is driving an RV with her eyes closed, hitting objects along the way.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Korra is forced to take the car home after her friends are captured and ends up crashing it into a lamppost and netting about 10 parking tickets. When critiqued, she points out that she doesn't know how to drive, and Bolin says she did well, all things considered, and the joke has more to do with her extremely sheltered upbringing than her gender. The trope is also completely averted with Asami, who's probably the best driver in the series. Also, Korra is shown to get considerably better at driving once Asami starts teaching her, though she's still more comfortable for others to be behind the wheel.
  • Averted (maybe Inverted) on M.A.S.K.. Gloria Baker, the team's only female member, has the cover job of race car driver.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Driving Mrs. Wolfe," Heffer's mother is revealed to be a rare straight example in modern animation, which leads to chaos when she accidentally finds herself driving on a racetrack.
  • Also averted (or inverted) in the Jem episode "Intrigue at the Indy 500" where Jerrica (as Jem) ends up participating in the race.
  • This is the subject of two Popeye shorts: "Wimmin Hadn't Oughta Drive" from the Fleischer era, and "Car-azy Drivers" from the Famous era, both of which deal with Popeye trying to teach Olive Oyl how to drive. In the latter short, Olive even calls him out on this trope when he shows up wearing a suit of armor.
    Olive Oyl: Popeye, take off that silly costume right way, or I will, not, go!
  • In the first episode of the Israeli animated series M.K. 22, the (fictional) first female Israeli astronaut is interviewed before take-off. She talks about how how NASA has no room for stereotypes and women are involved in all parts of the organisation, while in the background a woman driver crashes into two parked cars while trying to park herself. This becomes a running gag throughout the episode.
  • In the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Help Wanted: Mommy", Miss Miller drives the boys to school and crashes into a streetlight.
    Miss Miller: Of all the foolishness, a streetlight right in the middle of the street! We could have been killed!
    Simon: My thoughts exactly.
  • In Futurama, neither Leela nor Amy can parallel park, even though they're flying VTOL vehicles. Leela states this when she becomes the pilot, and Amy is shown sliding her vehicle pefectly into position horizontally, then dinging the cars on both sides anyway.

    Real Life 
  • Studies differ, but women tend to report more accidents per mile driven (in the range of 10%) than men: young men report more accidents than young women, and older women more than older men. This is inverted by auto insurance rates, especially for young drivers. Male drivers are often charged a higher premium because they're over-represented in severe crashes that are more likely to total the car or result in serious injury or death, whereas the vast majority of women's crashes are just minor brush-ups that don't cost insurance companies as much. The disparity actually got to the point where the European Parliament forced insurance companies to stop charging different premiums based on gender because they were unfairly discriminating against men.
  • A "joke" that still rears its head on message boards whenever a female race car driver has an embarrassing incident — like Danica Patrick hitting her pit crew at one race, then hitting someone else's crew a few races later. Considering male drivers like Paul Tracy used to make a habit of such minor incidents the double standard is pretty tired. Interestingly when Katherine Legge had a huge crash, splitting her Champ Car in half and emerging unharmed, there weren't any "LOL Women Drivers" comments, just a lot of compliments about her toughness. (Then again, even the most douchey person can't reasonably blame driving ability when a rear wing element broke off going into a non-banked flat-out corner. Unlike some crashes where the most skilled drivers would have a chance of saving the car, it was a matter where the best driver in the world would still have been going into that wall.)
    • Tellingly, Katherine Legge is now known just as much for looking extremely hot in a swimsuit as she is for being a racing driver. As such...regarding Danica specifically...especially from many who despise the sexualizing of their chosen drug-of-choice.
    • Milka Duno is a standout example. At St. Petersburg, Florida, second race of the 2010 IndyCar season, she was five and a half seconds off the second slowest time...which was one and a half seconds off the fastest time. In a sport that has recently embraced several female drivers who possess quite a bit of talent, Duno is now causing the vast majority of fans to scream invectives at race control director Brian Barnhart, that he is allowing her on the track solely for Venezuelan CITGO sponsorship dollars. (As of 2011, she no longer races in IndyCar.)
  • Similarly crops up in "humourous" captions on various "funny picture" websites, any time there is a ridiculous or improbable car accident in the image.
  • On one episode of Top Gear (Series 5, Episode 6), a relative unknown by the name of Billy Baxter asked to take a power lap in the Suzuki Liana. As Jeremy Clarkson explained, many, many people have so asked, but they answered this one because the guy was literally totally blind ... but still thought he could beat Richard Whitley's lap time. Long story short: he did. In fact, he beat Terry Wogan's time as well. ...and half the places where the video is published or linked online say, "Blind Man Beats Woman Driver", despite neither of those men being women.
  • This sexist birthday card and this wishing well variant has a woman wish for "driving skills" and transforms into a man.
  • Any time there's a news report about distracted driving, they name down the usual suspects that distract drivers (talking on the phone, drinking coffee, changing the radio station) they also always explicitly mention putting on make-up, possibly because it's one of the worst offenders (with some of the others, you can at least halfway keep your eye on the road, but with make-up you have to look in the mirror to put it on,) and because it's one of the few distractions that almost solely performed by women.
  • Averted with World Rally Championship driver Michèle Mouton. A real woman in a man's world in the late 80's era of Group B rallying. The swift Frenchwoman gained fame through driving for the Audi team. The Group-B cars were violent fire-breathing monsters that were able to go from 0-60 in under 3 seconds...On gravel. While she never won a championship title, she did win 4 rallies in which she went up against and defeated champions. She retired in 1986, only because the insane Group-B category folded due to tragic accidents. Since Mouton, there hasn't been any female drivers in top level rallying.
  • Parallel parking in a confined space really does appear to be slightly more difficult for women than men, due to neurological differences in the sexes' processing of spatial arrangements.
  • An Irish radio station had a bit of an impromptu indulgence of this trope when numerous people phoned in one day and said they had spotted a woman driving along the motorway with a mirror propped up on the dashboard, driving with one hand and using a portable hair straightener with the other. The host then recalled an incident where he had seen a driver in front of him with long blonde hair that was apparently applying lipstick while driving only to discover it was actually a man trimming his beard.
  • In some places a slang term for an automobile junkyard is a "women's parking lot."
  • When South Korea introduced larger and well-lit female-only parking spaces, everyone assumed this trope was in play. The actual reason was safety against assault.
  • Several languages have set phrases — often rhyming — that encapsulate this trope.
    • There's an old French saying about this: "Femme au volant, mort au tournant" ("Woman at the wheel, death at the next turn").
    • Similarly, there’s an Israeli saying about women’s abilities to bring men up and ruin them, ishá boná, ishá horésetHebrew  ‘a woman builds, a woman destroys’, often augmented with ishá khoná, ishá dorésetHebrew  ‘a woman parks, a woman runs over’.
    • In Italian and Portuguese the saying goes "Woman at the wheel, constant danger" (IT: Donna al volante, pericolo costante.)
    • Russian "Женщина за рулем - что обезьяна с гранатой" ("Female driver is like a monkey with hand grenade"). There is also an obscene phrase which translates as "a cunt behind the wheel is no driving".
    • The expression in English is "Women drivers, no survivors."
    • In German: "Frau am Steuer, ungeheuer" ("Woman at the wheel, not safe").