Gransnet forums


Design/testing gender bias that endangers women

(45 Posts)
MamaCaz Wed 12-Jun-19 15:52:46

As OH flicked through the TV channels earlier, stopping briefly on politics, I heard something that caught my attention.

Apparently, a woman involved in a car crash is much more likely to be seriously injured than a man involved in an accident (47% more likely, it seems, and 17% more likely to die), and this could well be due to the fact that most test dummies are based on male statistics!

I've just Googed this, and found an article in the Guardian that mentions not only this, but many other ways in which women are disadvantaged by what seems to be male-biased design.

This is a link to the article:

As I was looking specifically for the part on cars, I have only quickly skimmed over the rest, but I think it is well-worth a look, and certainly raises a lot of questions!

MamaCaz Wed 12-Jun-19 15:54:41

Sorry it's not come up as a link. I don't know why - hopefully it can be copied and pasted?

annsixty Wed 12-Jun-19 16:13:04

Why would that be?
It is one of the most bizarre things I have read in a long time.
Considering that most women drive today from the 5ft slim ones to the nearly 6ft ones , obviously more research needs to be done and if necessary, women should be informed which type/ design car are safer for their build.
They can then decide if it is a priority to them.

luluaugust Wed 12-Jun-19 16:24:29

Could the 47% be anything to do with the women being in the passenger seat more (if they are)? You are in the front but not in control. Of course most medicines are tested on men which may account for some side effects in women.

Davidhs Wed 12-Jun-19 16:26:39

I would have thought the reason that the average woman’s body is less robust than a mans, is a large part of that difference.
The other factor is many women drive smaller and older cars, more likely to be seriously damaged in a accident. It is a well known fact that a large 4x4 weighing over 2tons protects the occupants much better.
Women that can afford to ignore economy do choose Range Rovers etc for safety reasons

MiniMoon Wed 12-Jun-19 17:03:39

Here's the link

GrannyGravy13 Wed 12-Jun-19 17:09:27

We went to buy a top of the range BMW a few years ago, I was to be the main driver I am 5'2" and then only 7st 10lb (if only I still was????).

The salesman informed us if we were to be in a "shunt" and I was driving because of my driving position if the airbag were to go off it would kill me' needless to say we haven't got a BMW!.

Cars in particular are designed for men.

Davidhs Wed 12-Jun-19 17:40:00

An honest car salesman ? I wonder if that warning was in the handbook

notanan2 Wed 12-Jun-19 17:44:07

Yes, also in medicine, "typical" heart attack symptoms = male heart attack symptoms.

Womens heart attack symptoms are considered "atypical" hmm which is why there is often a fatal delay in treatment for women who have heart attacks.

notanan2 Wed 12-Jun-19 17:45:41

I would have thought the reason that the average woman’s body is less robust than a mans, is a large part of that difference

Not less robust hmm just different
They would be just as "robust" if crash tests accounted for the difference in pelvis etc

GrannyGravy13 Wed 12-Jun-19 17:51:42

notanan totally agree about heart attack systems, more female lives would be saved if they recognised the symptoms.

Anatomically our bodies are different in the pelvic area.

Females also tend overall to sit closer to the steeeing wheel with their sits adjusted higher, so I have been told by numerous car salesmen.

MamaCaz Wed 12-Jun-19 18:13:16

Thanks for supplying the link, MiniMoon
I ran put of time earlier, so when I realized that my link hadn't worked, I had no time to sort it out.

WeeMadArthur Thu 13-Jun-19 12:29:13

Cars are designed around the average mans body. I’m not short (5’8”) and I struggle to reach some of the touchscreen options on our car. Seatbelts are designed around men, so don’t sit as well on women, especially if they are pregnant. Its completely unconscious bias, due to most people in auto industry being male.

A similar example I once saw was a woman discussing the layout of a ladies loo that her male friend was designing. She asked if he had left room in the cubicles for the sanitary bin. He said “ what are they.” He designs buildings for a living and had no idea that he was designing them without any room for sanitary bins because he didn’t even know they existed, he had never seen one in the mans loos, after all!

ReadyMeals Thu 13-Jun-19 12:37:05

It may be that male dummies are used for the actual data (they wear indwelling detectors) as it would probably cost too much to make them in different sizes, but they use cadavers of all shapes and sizes as well, in order to examine actual damage.

Hm999 Thu 13-Jun-19 12:46:04

Read Caroline Criado Perez's book Invisible Woman to find out how literally it is a man's world. Mobiles to fit a man's hand, heart attack advice, office temperatures, crash test dummies, CPR dummies with no boobs, the list goes on. She spent 3 yrs researching the book (was that for a dissertation?). Perez is the woman who got death threats for wanting more women on bank notes, as once they took Elizabeth Fry off, tgere would have been no women on the back of a bank note.

Razzy Thu 13-Jun-19 12:59:22

I read that article a while back; I think the author has written a book. It is extremely interesting when you see all the evidence gathered together in that way.

It is a man's world, it always was, because in the past strength was the controlling requirement. As the modern world has progressed things are slowly changing. Obviously it is never going to happen fast because men will not want to give up their advantage.

Only men drove originally. If you look at cars, they are, in the main, boring and functional. If a woman designed a car from scratch I reckon it would be far more interesting!

But you need to look at other biases - like most of the senior people in companies are men (even though women have been shown to be better than men in the role a lot of the time), women generally are expected to look after house and children as well as work, women are judged far more by the media, especially on looks. I love reading comments about stories on facebook and calling people out for their bias.

I have a daughter and I work hard to ensure a lack of bias in her life! So many people dress their girls in pink girly stuff and emphasis looks, whereas boys wear darker clothes, sensible running around shoes and it is their intelligence that is seen as more important.

So I turn everything around. I tell them that boys can climb trees as well as girls, girls can beat boys at maths, girls can wear whatever they are comfortable in, they can even buy those clothes in the boys section. I tell her to ignore labels. I tell her dinosaurs are every bit as much a girls toy as a boys toy. I tell her toy kitchens are for boys.

She is in the scouts and she does challenge people on this stuff if needed.

There is still a lot of sexist nonsense out there! If you think back 100 years girls and boys played with the same toys. During the war the women did all the jobs the men used to do. It isn't like they can't do it. And yet it is only recently that women were even allowed a bank account in their own name!

Men are seen as the default in design. Most things are designed around them and sometimes adapted for women.

maryhoffman37 Thu 13-Jun-19 13:00:09

Yes, Hm99, I was going to say the same. That was what prompted the Guardian article and all the other coverage.

Johno Thu 13-Jun-19 13:03:39

When women queue up to work down the coal mines... they will get my support.

Dillyduck Thu 13-Jun-19 13:13:41

I was nearly killed in an accident - boy racer sliding sideways hit my Range Rover head on. I had only a couple of seconds to react. We are always told that to do an emergency stop we hold the wheel and put feet hard on clutch and accelerator. Worst possible thing I could have done. Knees mucked up, hobbled around with sticks for years before replacements. Fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders all mucked up too with arthritis 15 years later. Is it just that men know things we don't? I should have let go of everything and curled up as much as possible I think.

Esmerelda Thu 13-Jun-19 13:31:12

So men are queuing up to work down the coal mines, are they Johno ... I wonder what century you are living in.

sandwichgeneration Thu 13-Jun-19 13:39:47

First day in new "refurbished" workplace. After walking round the inside of the building for a while looking for the facilities, I bumped into two other female colleagues who were also puzzled. Why? The designers had forgotten to include female toilets.

Granny23 Thu 13-Jun-19 13:45:30

Johno - in times gone by, coal mines were worked by teams of Father, Wife and 2 children. The man hacked out the coal, women gathered it up and children hauled it to the shaft. Small women and children were much used in narrow or low workings, which a big man could not scramble into. Only the Father was paid (by tonnage of coal) directly, it was up to him if he gave his wife/children anything.

Same sort of thing during the World Wars, when women undertook the heavy work previously reserved for men, but were paid much less. When the men came back from war the women were sent home, or the men forced them out, frightened that they would be expected to work for the same wages as the women.

MamaCaz Thu 13-Jun-19 13:56:50

When women queue up to work down the coal mines... they will get my support.

Would you like to expand on that, Johno?
As it stands, it just comes across as an outdated (by over a century), sexist, ignorant comment, which perhaps isn't what you intended.
Different views are perfectly acceptable when backed up by logical, informed reasoning, but I'm afraid your comment sadly lacks anything of the sort.

MamaCaz Thu 13-Jun-19 13:57:08


Tillybelle Thu 13-Jun-19 14:43:20

Johno. Oh Johno why? Are you waiting for us to say "When men have babies?" I think we have seen that women have walked across the "male only" line in the physical jobs! Firefighters, Police, Ambulance, The Armed forces. They go into the front line now and work beside the men.

However, you can never change the effect of Nature's design (or whatever you attribute it to). The male body is different in very many ways from the female body. That is what we are talking about. Nothing else. The effect of a car crash on a female body is different from that of a male.