Gender, Maths and Car insurance


The portions of the internet that I frequent have come alive over the past few days with heated discussion about the European Court of Justice ruling on insurance and gender. I posted something about it on Facebook the other day and got a stream of comments, mostly defending the status quo and saying “Of COURSE girls should have cheaper car insurance than boys!”

What has this got to do with maths education, the subject of this blog, I hear you cry? Well I was thinking about the many studies into differences between boys and girls’ experiences of learning maths, and various measures that are taken to correct the so-called “gender gap” whenever one group is outperforming another. People seem to accept as a given that boys and girls aged 16 should achieve broadly similar results in GCSE maths. When someone says “Well maybe one gender is naturally predisposed to be better at maths than the other”, they are (in my opinion rightly) jumped upon from a great height. Any systems in place in schools which seem to favour one group over another are challenged, and where one gender is slipping behind, initiatives are put in place to challenge this.

So why is it ok to say that boys are naturally predisposed to be more dangerous drivers than girls? And why is there no outcry to close the gender gap in car insurance prices? Why are we not putting initiatives into place to raise our boys to be safer drivers, so they too can benefit from cheaper car insurance?


7 Responses to “Gender, Maths and Car insurance”

  1. Jan Says:

    Risktaking is linked to testosterone levels, which are naturally at their highest levels in young men. There is indeed a cure, but not may would opt for it …

  2. Eudoxia Says:

    (I may be taking this too seriously …)

    Linked to testosterone, sure, but also culturally reinforced to a huge degree … there are a lot of ‘obviously risky and dangerous’ things that we (as a society) could try to educate about more effectively which would help all young drivers, I think.

    For example: trying to create social norms of: not driving if you’ve had *any* alcohol, not talking on the phone whilst driving (even on a hands-free), not driving whilst tired, telling other people in the car to shut up if their conversation is distracting, turning off the radio if it’s distracting, stopping for a 5-min break every hour of driving, staying hydrated during long car journeys …

    (I’m a young female driver – have had my licence for ~4 years, but spent 3 of those at University barely ever driving, only in the last few months have I started to feel properly competent)

  3. Louise Says:

    I think you’re right in that we should spend time trying to educate both men and women to be safe drivers, but I don’t think that means that they should automatically have the same insurance costs.

    The insurance costs are based on statistical analysis. We could use the same statistical analysis to decide how to better educate each gender; but that education should hopefully then result in a visible change in newly gathered statistics to show that men are now a lower risk than they were and their insurance would hence lower naturally.

    Presumably this is the same method that is used to determine if one gender if falling behind in maths GCSE – we try to better educate that gender, we don’t just adjust their grades to make them match those of the opposite sex.

  4. mathsfeedback Says:

    Students studying for GCSE are required to be in school and learning–however drivers are not required to improve their driving skills (once they have passed the test and reached a minimum standard). Should the state force them to continue learning? Defensive driving courses could be required every five years, for example, as part of the licensing procedure.

    On a related note, I’ve often wondered what it would be like if becoming a parent required passing a test first….

  5. Steve Says:

    Surely we should simultaneously be raising our girls to be more dangerous and to take more risks?

  6. Eudoxia Says:

    In response to Steve: in life in general, absolutely; in driving in particular, perhaps not 🙂

    (Although I’d try to say “adventurous” rather than “dangerous”!)

  7. Deetta Rodrigue Says:

    Hello there, do you have a twitter account for your latest updates? =) so that if you have any new stuff on car articles I can be informed quickly without having to check your site daily 😀

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