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Week 8

Why are female drivers different? Attitude. Add to ...

Since I started my in-car lessons, I've only been driven home by women, and I've only driven women home. I finally asked Chris why his College Street institution seems to be an all-girls school. Actually, I asked him after, for the second time this week, I accidentally slammed my hand on the horn as I was practising my hand-over-hand steering technique. Don't ask.

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"So, why are all of your students women?"

"They're not all women," he said. "I have a few guys. But you're right, I have like 80 per cent women."

"Why do you think that is?"

"Because I'm patient."

Silence.

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"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, worried that my patient driving instructor, who didn't even wince when I hit the horn accidentally, had been sexist all along. I thought he was saying that women are bad drivers, but he has the temperament to deal with them.

"Well, a lot of my clients come through referrals, and women are more nervous about driving than men. They tell their friends that I make them comfortable, and then they come to me."

Oh. Chris went on to tell me that men get in his car for a lesson with confidence. Some, even if they've never driven before, will lie and say they drive all time. And then they can't tell him which pedal is the gas and which is the brake.

I had forgotten about confidence. I remembered Rob, my in-class instructor, talking about how important the c-word is when it comes to competent driving. And then I remembered that I'd totally lost mine the day of my first lesson.

But Chris insisted that despite their confidence, men do not make better drivers than women. Everyone is different, and put simply, some people make great drivers, and others do not. But generally, he said, the main difference between male and female drivers is the attitude they take to the challenge at hand.

So my next question is, why are we ladies such nervous wrecks? We're supposed to be living in an age of post-feminism where we are equally autonomous and have equal opportunities ― except, of course, for that nagging statistic that shows men are still paid more than women. But could it be that maybe we're just too nervous to knock on the boss's door and ask for a raise? I've certainly never done it.

And if it's true we lack self-confidence ― and the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced it is ― then what else are we holding back from doing? And how can we build more confidence? Who is telling us we can't do things other than our own worst enemies: ourselves? I certainly hope that I don't literally have to grow some balls in order to have some.

And then, at the end of the lesson, I pulled up to a house in High Park to pick up Chris's next lesson. And like almost every time I have a driving lesson, I had to text my next appointment to say I'd be delayed. The student, a female of about my own age, drove back to my place at a speed of about 15 km per hour. The speedometer was definitely below 20 as we crawled along Dundas.

"Come on! Let's go! Man up, already," I wanted to yell from the back seat. But of course, I stayed silent. After all, I wouldn't want to offend anyone.

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