Whenever there’s a car blocking your way, or there’s heavy traffic you’re unable to break, how often have you heard a comment like, “Hundred percent, it’s a woman driving ahead of me.” Well, the problem isn’t the woman driving ahead of you, it’s the systemic stereotype you’ve grown up learning that “women can’t drive”. They can, they are and, yet, they’re criticised. While we’ve had several conversations on stereotypes around women’s driving skills, we decided to go a step further and test what ChatGPT has to offer on the matter.

The recently launched chatbot developed by OpenAI is creating waves globally and while technology and artificial intelligence are now becoming a significant part of our everyday lives, it becomes even more crucial to check its accountability around gender inclusiveness.

Women Criticised For Driving

A lot of women I know have passed their driving test years ago, but most of them are infrequent drivers. It won’t be wrong to say that they, in fact, fear driving. Why is that? Is it a lack of confidence in themselves, a lack of confidence their families have in them, or both?

Jumping right in, when we asked ChatGPT why women are criticised for driving skills, it responded, “Criticism of women’s driving skills is often based on gender stereotypes and bias, rather than actual driving ability. Research has shown that men and women are equally capable of driving safely and effectively. Any criticism of women driving should be based on individual behaviour behind the wheel and not on gender.”

Why are people scared of women driving?

Many will argue that India is unlike several Arab nations where women have barely gotten the right to get behind the wheel even today, that India has, for the longest time, seen women driving vehicles across age groups. But does this reason solely justify the kind of scrutiny women face while taking up the wheel? Aren’t the projections around how women are weak at the skill undermine their quest to drive in the first place?

People are scared of women driving. It’s not a statement we have created overnight, it’s a systemic projection that has been cultivated for decades now. We asked ChatGPT the same and it answered, “People being scared of women driving is likely based on gender stereotypes and biases, and not on any actual evidence or data. The notion that women are worse drivers than men is not supported by scientific research, which has shown that men and women have similar driving patterns. Fears of women driving may seem from cultural norms and expectations, and from media portrayals that reinforce gender-based stereotypes. In reality, the safety of a driver depends on individual skills, experience, and behaviour, rather than gender.

Why are women called bad drivers?

I can’t help but recall how my sister who started driving at 29 last year took me out for a ride and when there were several eyes on her in the traffic in our very small town, she said, “Imagine if men had to start learning driving at a later stage, wouldn’t they, too, be a little scared to get behind the wheel. For us women, who took to driving much later, it’s more challenging with the stares and constant judgement because, in people’s heads already, we’re not good at it.”

ChatGPT reaffirms this notion of bias and responds, “The notion that women are bad drivers is a stereotype and a common gender-based assumption, rather than a proven fact. There is no evidence to support the idea that one gender is inherently better or worse at driving than the other. Studies have shown that men and women have similar driving patterns and accident rates.”

Why are women judged for driving is a question that we’ve been asking for years now. The answer is simple, gender-based stereotypes and biases. The notion is perpetuated by societal biases rather than actual driving ability, and because of this we never really know who is a good driver and who is not, irrespective of gender.

Can stereotypes around women driving undermine their confidence?

Imagine constantly nagging someone and telling them they’re not good enough. What would their mental state be irrespective of whether or not they’re good at it? ChatGPT’s response to stereotypes undermining women’s confidence while driving is crucial for us to understand. It says, “Yes, stereotypes around women’s driving abilities can have a negative impact on their confidence. When women are repeatedly exposed to gender-based assumptions that they are worse drivers than men, it can affect their self-perception and confidence behind the wheel. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety while driving, which can, in turn, impact their driving performance.”

Additionally, societal expectations and gender stereotypes can make women feel as though their driving skills are constantly being evaluated and judged, further undermining their confidence. It is important to challenge and dispel these harmful stereotypes, and to encourage women to develop their driving skills and confidence without being held back by gender-based biases.

“Gender-based assumptions and stereotypes about women’s driving abilities can be harmful and contribute to discrimination, so it’s important to challenge and dispel these myths,” confirms ChatGPT.

Views expressed by the author are their own.

Suggested reading: Is ChatGPT Feminist: AI Decodes How Can Men Be Allies In The #MeToo Movement

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