Audi is asking Kiwis to take a stand against outdated gender stereotypes with a first-of-its kind interactive installation in Auckland.
The German car giant has launched its 'Scrap Girl Cars' experience at Westfield Newmarket, by getting visitors to, literally, make their mark towards a more progressive future.
Toy cars for girls are often coloured pink, and come with glittery or floral designs that bear no resemblance to the kinds of cars they could actually drive in the future.
To that end, visitors will use black markers to write gender positive comments on a pink RS e-tron GT, Audi's first fully electric high performance car, progressively turning it black over a four week period.
Amy de Vries, marketing manager for Audi NZ said Aotearoa has a track record in supporting equality so it made sense to draw attention to the issue here.
"Progress is part of Audi's DNA, as is our commitment to gender equality, so it struck us that we needed to do something about the fact that, as a society, when it comes to toy cars, we are still perpetuating stereotypes," she said.
"Why are girls playing with fantasy cars, often pink in colour, that don't actually exist in real life?"
Research backs up the idea that these stereotypes have a wide influence on both male and female drivers.
A published paper in the Transportation Research Journal showed gender stereotypes associated with driving started at the age of 10.
Another showed avoiding the commonly-held misbelief that women are poor drivers can actually cause them to drive better.
According to the Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal, "this stereotype is recognised and endorsed by women and girls very early on, long before taking their driving licence".
The facts simply don't support the idea that women are worse drivers. Indeed the opposite is true.
A study of 1000 New Zealanders, published earlier this year, showed 84 percent of men believe they were better drivers than women, despite accounting for 64 percent of serious crashes on New Zealand roads.
"#ScrapGirlCars is one example of Audi's global strategy around 'Living Progress' being activated right here in New Zealand," de Vries continued.
"It has a strong emphasis on inclusion and diversity through action. If global organisations start to take action, we believe we can effect change."
Taking action also requires those who visit the installation to embrace the opportunity, de Vries said.
"We know through our interaction with customers that women are just as passionate about performance cars as men, but there is a disconnect from a young age.
"We all can influence the future, so our installation is a visual demonstration of breaking stereotypes. We're inviting anyone of any gender, who wants to break this stereotype to join us in turning our top of the range e-tron GT from pink to black."
When people arrive at the installation, they will be invited to write their message of support on the pink Audi, with more information available to explain why.
"There are Audi ambassadors on site to explain why Audi has decided to Scrap Girl Cars and there is further information on the stand digital screens inside the space which also explain the concept," de Vries said.
"People who mark their mark for gender equality on the car, are also invited to enter the draw to win a return trip to Queenstown to take part in the exclusive Audi Ice Driving experience, held at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds, near Wanaka, in August.
"We can't wait for New Zealanders to also be able to participate in Audi's global drive for progress."
The automotive brand has a strong reputation for doing just that, going back to 1981 when it signed rally driver Michele Mouton to the Audi Quattro team, the first woman to be signed by a car brand as the lead driver.
She later became the first president of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile's (FIA's) Women and Motor Sport Commission in 2010 and its manager in the World Rally Championship in 2011.
Audi also partnered recently with Janelle Monáe, the music, movies, and television star, who has used her celebrity to help drive social and gender equality.
Monáe works as a brand ambassador for the company and founded 'Fem the Future', an organisation empowering women to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, where they are typically under-represented.
As well as its very visual pledge in Auckland, Audi is committed to helping young women all over New Zealand interested in performance cars to achieve their goals.
"Audi has over 32 different models that suit all sorts of drivers, depending on what they are looking for in a vehicle," de Vries said.
"Audi NZ also runs two different driving experiences, one on track and one on ice that caters to all levels of experience from those wanting to sharpen their driving skills, right through to those looking to experience the exhilaration of Motorsport.
"Audi's track experience has been designed to deliver exceptional results and push participants and the vehicles to their limits."
Perhaps race driver Tiffany Chittenden put it best when she so succinctly said: "A vehicle has no idea whether it is driven by a male or a female, so we need to move past these outdated stereotypes."
Audi’s Scrap Girl Cars installation can be found at Shop S150 on Level 1 of Westfield Newmarket until June 28, 2022.
This article was created for Audi.