Car culture is dominated by men, largely because society (and car culture itself) unreasonably equates being a gearhead with being a man. Here are ten ways chosen by Jalopnik readers to help break down the barriers and encourage more women to become enthusiasts.
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10.) Watch more Top Gear
Suggested By: yurikaze
Why it's a good idea: The show is like a gateway drug for car people and has an audience that's 42% female. The BBC standard takes a topic that's supposed to be "for men" and reaches a large female audience. How? First, the show is just damn entertaining whether you know everything or nothing about cars. Second, of all the people the show offends, it seems to go out of its way not to play to gender stereotypes.
Photo Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
9.) Go to races/car shows
Suggested By: Viperfan1
Why it's a good idea: If you want to interest someone in cars, don't just talk about them — let them experience it first hand. If a woman is a nascent enthusiast, the sights and sounds of a car show or race will excite the inner car nerd within. It's also a great place to meet fellow female enthusiasts (who do exist).
Photo Credit: Dean Thorpe
8.) Go to a racing school
Suggested By: keenan9
Why it's a good idea: The experience of speed is like a drug and sometimes all a person needs is a little time behind the wheel on a track to fully understand why cars are so much fun. Also, despite some comments by morons to the contrary, women can be just as fast as men around a race track.
Photo Credit: Skip Barber Racing School
7.) Buy matchbox cars as well as dolls
Suggested By: zacarious
Why it's a good idea: As with all things, the best way to get someone interested in something is to brainwash them from an early age. While you shouldn't deprive a young girl of dolls or other female-centric toys, why not throw in a few matchbox cars as well?
Photo Credit: Michael Porter
6.) Spend time with your daughter in the garage
Suggested By: HammerheadFistpunch
Why it's a good idea: The problem that many men have with explaining cars to women is that the men often act like they're talking to a child. "This is where the engine is," one might say. A very simple solution is to start explaining cars to actual children, ideally your daughter, but nieces and young cousins will do. The lesson is threefold: share your passions, speak to people respectfully regarding their age and experience, and start ‘em young.
Photo Credit: NedraI
5.) Cover successful women in motorsports, not just attractive ones
Why it's a good idea: Car culture tends to use women as props instead of icons. That's not to say that there aren't successful women with key jobs in racing. We have a whole list of awesome women drivers, but there are more women today not getting the coverage they deserve.
There's Leena Gade, the first woman engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, her sister Teena, who is lead engineer for Mini's World Rally Team, as well as Cara Tredget and Lucy Taylor, the technical manager and trackside analyst for Shell Oil in Formula One.
Photo Credit: Audi Sport
4.) Encourage women to wrench
Suggested By: I Can be Stig?
Why it's a good idea: It's very easy to feel intimidated by mechanics regardless of gender. When you're working on a car, there should be less "Watch me do this" and more "Help me do this." If you want to engage with someone with your interests, you have to get hands-on and not stay aloof and abstract.
Photo Credit: Matthew Burpee
3.) Respect her limits
Suggested By: pauljones
Why it's a good idea: While you might be really fascinated with your new intercooler or how Michael Schumacher just isn't readjusting to Formula One like Kimi Raikkonen, your friend may find your discussions boring at first, then tiresome, then really annoying when you try and force her to get involved. You're going too fast, respect her limits, and recognize the point where she isn't interested and she might not ever be.
Photo Credit: auremar/Shutterstock
2.) Don't assume she is any less capable or interested as you
Suggested By: Xander Crews, Proud of BOXER
Why it's a good idea: This is where a lot of sexism in car culture comes from. Not enough girls are getting invited over to drink beer and change people's transmissions in their driveway. Guys fail to leave the door open for girls to get involved. A project car can be something that husband and wife can share; a trip to the car show is something that a couple can do together. You have to be open to women getting involved.
Also, don't assume they don't know more about cars than you do.
Photo Credit: My Cousin Vinny/Twentieth Century Fox
1.) Don't be a jerk
Suggested By: pauljones
Why it's a good idea: The whole point of this list is to avoid the douchebags and leering sleazeballs, and make it so a woman doesn't feel like she's different, disrespected, or left out. Do the opposite of this. Don't make gender the big issue and, as always, don't be a massive tool.
Photo Credit: Ari Helminen