It's 2022 and we've come a long way as far as gender stereotypes go - but new research commissioned by Jaguar has revealed some pretty shocking statistics about what Kiwis think about the driving ability of New Zealand women.
The research showed that outdated gender stereotypes still linger when it comes to the driving ability of New Zealand women, with 84 percent of Kiwi men surveyed believe they are better drivers than women - despite 64 percent of serious crashes happening with males behind the wheel.
Fortunately many realise that this is simply false - especially the growing number of women who compete in motorsport.
"A car doesn't know who is driving it. The driver is just the car's input and it doesn't make any difference if it's a female or male - there's no physical difference," says motor-racing expert Tiffany Chittenden.
She says the research shows people are stuck in the past. But she also understands that many young women aren't encouraged to get into cars in the same way boys often are, due in part to their female role models not being interested.
Chittenden's mother and father were both keenly interested in motorsport and got her into it from an early age, helping her become the first-ever female to win a British National Karting Championship.
Now she's partnered with Jaguar to help dispel the gender misconceptions Kiwis have and educate the New Zealand public on how we can achieve equality in driving.
While the idea of trying out motorsport might not have occurred to many Kiwi women growing up, when they actually take the step of getting onto a track and trying it out, many are quickly hooked.
"It's just so exciting, it's such a rush. People often think it's going to feel out of control, but then they try it and realise they are in control - the car will do what you want, when you tell it to, especially as we do it on a track in a controlled environment," says Chittenden.
"When people do it for the first time, they realise how good it feels - not just the speed but the cornering too. Modern cars can do a lot that people don't realise, even if you read all of its performance stats. When we do these events at the track and people use the cars properly, they go away knowing, for the first time, they can drive like that if they need to. Or just want to!"
Jaguar's research found the majority of men think women are more interested in the colour and look of a car rather than its performance, but in reality female respondents ranked performance and safety as their top priorities.
As far as representation in motorsport goes, only 15 percent of New Zealanders can name a single female race car driver.
Jaguar has a history of breaking gender stereotypes that includes one of its original racing drivers, Sybil Lupp, a New Zealander who forged her way into the male-dominated industry in the 1950s, rising to national prominence in motor racing and operating her own mechanics.
Using Lupp as inspiration, Chittenden and fellow female motorsport stars Amy Hudson and Rianna O'Meara-Hunt are coaching The Project host Kanoa Lloyd through three driving challenges:
• Smart Cone Challenge - agility and precision challenges in the Jaguar I-PACE
• Flying Quarter Mile Sprint - one of Lupp's most well-known races, showcasing speed in the Jaguar F-Type
• 1 Hour Endurance - testing longevity and sustained power in the Jaguar F-PACE SVR
These will air every Tuesday for the next three weeks on The Project from 7pm on Three – kicking off on Tuesday 15 March.
And for any women reading this who are keen on trying out motorsport but are worried what people might say or think about them doing it, Chittenden has a message for you.
"Don't let anyone else decide for you. Take that first step - you have to try it for yourself. Then if you really do like it, you know that it's worth fighting for," she says.
"In a man's world, you will get told by some men 'No, you can't do it'. They'll try and stop you at the first hurdle. But if you want it, just go for it - you have to find out for yourself. If you let someone else decide for you, you'll never know."
This article was created for Jaguar.