Why the gender of a driver is rarely newsworthy

HOW often do we read stories in the regional press that begin “A female [or woman] driver…”?

You would be forgiven for thinking women drivers can barely get behind the wheel of a car without being involved in something newsworthy.

In fact, studies have shown that men are more prone to the sort of risky driving behaviour that leads to crashes, and are responsible for more road offences.

Yet when a woman is involved in an accident, however trivial, it all too frequently makes its way into the intro.

How often do you read a story beginning, “A male [or man!] driver…” in similar circumstances?

We need, of course, to make reference to a driver’s gender at some point (almost always through their name and use of the appropriate pronoun), but the inclusion of it in the intro when it has no relevance is just lazy sexism.

That is not to say a driver’s gender is never relevant. A woman is generally seen as more physically vulnerable than a man, so, for instance, a story in which a lone female driver was threatened with violence by another driver would require attention being drawn to her sex in the intro.





About John Wilson

Editor of Hereford Times, Ludlow Advertiser, Stroud News and Journal, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard and Gloucestershire Gazette series. Journalist for more than 30 years.
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