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DVSA Driving Test Gender Gap Leads to Accusations of Sexism

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has refuted allegations of sexism, despite new DVSA driving test data showing a massive gender gap in pass rates. The data shows that men are much more likely to pass a test at the first attempt. A social psychologist says ‘subconscious’ bias may be at work…

The agency, which is responsible for car and motorcycle tests, recently published statistics highlighting that for each of the last 10 years, approximately half of men were passing the DVSA driving test at the first attempt, compared with just over four in 10 women.

Since the beginning of the 2008/9 financial year, up to the end of the 2017/18 financial year, the number of men passing the practical DVSA driving test first time, ranged from 48.7 percent to 51.3 percent, while the number of women successful at the first attempt remained between 41.8 percent and 44.4 percent.

Do DVSA Driving Test Stats Show Gender Bias?

When quizzed about whether DVSA driving test stats show gender bias, the agency said that candidates were judged on nothing more than driving ability. Mark Winn, the DVSA’s chief driving examiner, said: “Driver testing and training tests candidates’ ability to drive safely and responsibly, as well as making sure they know the theory behind safe driving.

However, social psychologist Dr Gary Wood – author of the book The Psychology of Gender – said that bias towards male drivers “seems plausible”, but added that it’s probably subconscious and affected by multiple factors, including the proportion of male driving examiners and the expectations produced by gender stereotypes.

Wood said: “There’s no one reason why men are more likely to pass their tests first time compared with women, but a combination of factors. A key factor would be the proportion of male to female examiners. Do women fare better when faced with a female examiner? This ties in with the ‘expectation effects’ of driving still being seen as a male domain.”

Higher DVSA Driving Test Pass Rate Does Not Make Men Better Drivers

Despite the data indicating that male drivers are more likely to pass the DVSA driving test first time, the preconception that young male drivers are less safe on the road, still lingers.

A spokesperson for the AA said: “The male pass rate has been higher than the female pass rate for a long time. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why this is, but there is no indication that men are safer drivers than women overall. Young male drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in a crash than young female drivers.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for insurance firm Direct Line said: “We do not believe that pass rates are indicative of safe driving. Both genders are equally prone to forming bad driving habits and all novices are at risk of overestimating their driving ability.” “Learner drivers are taught to drive safely, within the law and the Highway Code, and they cannot pass the driving test without demonstrating they can do these things to a satisfactory standard,” the Direct Line spokesperson added.

What are your thoughts? Is the DVSA guilty of gender bias?

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