As many an unfortunate bumper sticker attests, the idea that women can't drive (or park) is alive and well. It has less factual basis than ever, though, thanks to a new UK study. The research showed that women, if not definitively better (but also not demonstrably worse) drivers than men, outperform them when it comes to parking.
The NCP Parking report, conducted by NCP, a parking operator in the UK, surveyed and ranked 2,500 drivers on aspects of parking like locating a spot, timing and positioning within a space. They found that despite low confidence levels -- only one-fifth of women surveyed felt they were better at parking than men -- women outperformed males on most counts.
The BBC reports that men rush when parking and end up wasting time and gas driving past parking spaces and, once they do find one, are more apt to park sloppily. A press release states "The ladies' slower approach meant they were better able to notice spaces, or spot when other drivers were about to leave."
The 'Female Shuffle'
While women take longer to park, according to the report -- an average of 21 seconds, compared to 16 seconds for men (or, if you prefer a more depressing figure, 12 days out of our lives parking compared to nine days for men) -- that extra time pays off. 53 percent of women were judged to have parked centrally within a space, compared to just a quarter of men. This is largely due to what researchers called "the female shuffle." They found that 56 percent of women will reposition a car if they aren't aligned to go in, while just 29 percent of men bother to do so, the press release claimed.
'Pose Parking' - Explained
Men in the study also exhibited more parking bravado than their female peers, the study found, and more so when a female passenger was in the car. Men tended to attempt parking in a smaller space -- even if a larger one was available -- when a female was present. In a press release, researchers called this phenomenon "pose parking."
The survey also examined "pre-parking pose" and found that women are more likely to adapt driving instructors' preferred method of entry -- reversing into a spot -- then men: according to the NCP press release, 39 percent of women back into spaces, compared to just 28 percent of men. Neil Beeson, the designer of the rating system used in the study and senior driving instructor from ITV’s documentary "Last Chance Driving School," said in the press release:
In my experience men have always been the best learners and usually performed better in lessons.However, it's possible that women have retained the information better. The results also appear to dispel the myth that men have better spatial awareness than women … men need to give our partners more respect when it comes to parking.
Previous studies have shown that, contrary to widely-accepted stereotypes, women perform better at spatial tasks like parking cars -- it’s confidence levels that bring our performance down. If the NCP Parking Report is any indication, men could stand to reign in their confidence -- at least behind the wheel.
WATCH: Women Better At Parking Then Men