I guess men and women have a very different answer to this question. Boys grow up with toy cars and Fisherprice tool sets. Girls grow up with pink miniature versions of household goods. What a way to prepare for the future of gender equality… I’m glad to see that’s changing slowly now. But what I really want to write about here is that special moment when I realized that driving is AMAZING.
For as long as I can remember I was always intrigued by cars. Knightrider and Transformers were among my favorite TV shows and my Christmas wishlist included a Ferrari for many years. (Never got one though…) My older brother’s toys seemed far more interesting than mine. He had a Matchbox car wash set and a race track. I had a pink Barbie campervan. Luckily my brother is five years older, so by the time he was fed up wit his toys I was old enough to play with it. Where boys are often playfully pushed to develop their interest in cars and mechanics, girls are often pushed away from it. As a result I did not sit on the driver’s seat of a car until I was 18 years old and it was time for my first driving lesson.
I picked the same driving school as the one my brother went to. And he picked that one because the car was a BMW. That sounded good to me too. I still remember that first lesson well. It was a sunny day in late summer. My instructor drove us to an empty parking lot and it was my time to sit behind the wheel. The blue and white propeller of the E46 320d’s wheel was staring up at me. I was nervous, excited and determined to do well. First we focused on steering, then on how to operate the brakes and throttle and finally shifting gears. Everything went so well; we only nearly crashed once! The lesson lasted 2 hours but felt like 2 minutes. I was so excited and couldn’t stop thinking “I’VE BEEN MISSING OUT ON THIS FOR WAY TOO LONG!”.
That was 13 years ago. I still like BMWs. I still love every moment behind the wheel. And I am still slightly envious of girls who get a head start and learn about cars before their first official driving lesson. And that does bring me back to my earlier point. I am eagerly waiting for a world where a toy toolbox is not strictly for boys.
The percentage of men and women who have their driver’s license is now fairly equal in most countries. However, women often still get charged more at repair shops since shop owners consider them “poorly informed” and take advantage. Surely women wouldn’t be considered under informed if we’d learn from an early age how to change a tire or check the oil level?
Well, the Holiday season is getting near and I found one company making girl toolboxes. Guess what my niece is going to get from Santa.