The transportation industry as a whole is male dominated. I'm sure there are many factors that have driven that over the years, but now that Uber has partnered with UN Women in an effort “to work together around the world toward a shared vision of equality and women’s empowerment,” I find myself wondering about the gender gap.
Letting strangers into your car is always risky; no one can argue that fact. The majority of the time, there are no issues, but there are many cases of robbery, rape, murder. There are also the more benign cases of harassment or general awkwardness. As a woman, all these risks are magnified; on both sides of the proverbial glass.
Women drivers are more likely to have unwanted advances that can quickly turn into stalking or an actual attack. Right or wrong, women are seen as weaker and a man is more likely to take advantage of a woman than a woman is to take advantage of a man. There is also the flip side of that wherein a female passenger is more likely to be taken advantage of by a male driver than a male passenger by a female driver.
I would be remiss in my evaluation if I didn't point out the one advantage that women seem to have over men (and it pretty much applies to the entire service industry) and that is tipping. Women tend to be tipped more than men; not just in frequency of occurrence, but also in the amount of the tip. That can go the other way with a female customer, but let's face it, it rarely does.
I had a couple of young ladies (17 & 18) a few weeks ago during the local rodeo who told me they had spent 20 minutes trying to find a female driver. They didn't feel safe with a male one. Now, I will admit that this is not the norm, but it does beg the question, how safe do female passengers feel with a male driver?
I've had several people comment on the rarity of getting a female driver and inquire how I feel about it from a safety aspect. For the most part, passengers just want to get from point A to point B and they don't really care who gets them there, but there are always bad apples and they tend to be magnified by the presence of alcohol.
When my husband and I first started driving, we only had one car so I did days and he did nights. When we were able to get a second car, we decided to test the waters of me driving during the witching hours. It only took a couple of nights for us to jump back to shore.
My car could seat 6 passengers which meant 6 drunk people versus me. The first time it happened was fairly innocuous. A group of college students leaving a bar downtown at closing time. It was a long fare back to their college with one of them regaling me with all of his conspiracy theories regarding Game of Thrones very loudly and without much logic. Another time, it was 6 older guys going downtown late at night. They were buzzed, but quiet and tame.
Later that evening, it only took 3 halfwit hooligans to end my late night driving career. I pulled up to a huge mansion in a high end area of town and watched in disbelief as 3 guys tried to figure out how to get out of the gate. One climbed over, braving the spearheads at the top while the other two tried to figure out the code for the driveway. They weren't escaping from any nefarious behavior, but rather from the girls in the house. In retrospect, I should have canceled and gotten the hell outta Dodge, but I found it quite comical and I was honestly naive.
They finally make it out of Alcatraz and climb in. Two in the backseat and one in the front. They aren't going far, but they are beyond fubared. They keep telling me how much they love me and want to marry me. They're rolling down the windows, changing the radio station and blasting it to the point that I'm expecting the speakers to blow at any time. I finally got them to their destination and out of my car and quickly logged off.
On the drive home, I started thinking about these 3 trips and how things would play out in a trifecta situation. If I had 6 all male passengers, a long trip and they were all drunk and rowdy. I know there are female drivers that hold their own with the drunk and disorderly or brave the rougher neighborhoods, but I also know others like me who have opted out. It wouldn't take much to overpower me; I can't throw a punch to save my life, but I can hurl some gnarly insults that will make you cry for your mama.
Will women ever be viewed the same way as men and should they? I'm not saying that all women are weak and helpless anymore than I'm saying that all men are strong predators, but the fact remains that a man alone with a woman rarely fears for his safety. The service industry isn't the only one with gender bias, but it does seem to have the greatest disparity. Equality in the workplace and in society in general is admirable and is definitely something we should all work towards, but is it really possible in every industry?
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