Women-only parking: A service or an insult?

May 15, 2015 16:08
These larger-than-usual parking spaces in a Shanghai mall are designed exclusively for women drivers. Photo: Chinanews.com

Any discussion about whether women are good drivers is always bound to be controversial.

It doesn't help that women drivers are bundled into a certain stereotype -- they drive too slowly in the outside lane, forcing other drivers to pull back, and take forever when parking in tight spaces.

Now, a newly renovated shopping mall in Shanghai has done them a favor. Its basement parking has four slots exclusively for women. They have pink markings and they're near the exit. There are no pillars or walls to brush up against.

Each of the parking slots is wider than the usual three meters (an ordinary car parking space is 2.5 meters wide).

Fine, but is this not helping to perpetuate the stereotype?

The manager of the mall doesn't think so.

He says the women-only parking spaces are not meant to insult them or discriminate against them. In fact, he is convinced female customers would find the service convenient.

The Shanghai mall isn’t the first to give women drivers special treatment.

Last year, South Korea added thousands of parking spaces exclusively for women.

Like those in Shanghai, the specially designed spaces are longer, wider and have bright pink outlines and markings.

These are part of a government initiative to make Seoul more female-friendly. An official says the government means no offense.

But what about when women are lectured on driving techniques by the police? 

That is the case in Beijing where the police maintain a micro blog that gives them driving advice -- don't wear high heels, release the handbrake before setting off, don't panic when lost, etc. 

The blog has provoked outrage among netizens who accuse the Beijing police of stereotyping women.

After all, there are enough statistics to show women drive safer than men.

In 2013, the World Health Organization published a study which found men are actually more likely to be involved in accidents than women and that nearly eight in 10 fatal traffic accidents involve male drivers.

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EJ Insight writer