The male female dichotomy

Listen up ladies! First position your car level and parallel to and about an arm’s length from the vehicle you’re hoping to park behind. Blinker on, of course, and take a deep breath. And exhale.

Now, select reverse gear, and we’ll all be better off if it’s an automatic, turn your head and as much of your trunk as necessary to the left while retaining control of the steering wheel and the brake. Hopefully you won’t need to use the accelerator much.

Next, reverse the car straight back to the point at which your left rear wheel is in line with the rear bumper of the car you’re hoping to park behind, then without stopping turn the steering wheel anti-clockwise until the car is about 45 degrees to the gutter, perhaps a little less but certainly no more than 45 degrees.

Try not to worry about the cars driving around you – they’re impatient male drivers. Women drivers will wait patiently forever, unfortunately.

Keep moving back slowly at the 45 degree angle until you can turn the steering wheel clockwise without hitting the rear of the car in front. When your car is level with the gutter or about to hit the car behind, whichever comes first, stop.

That’s not how I reverse park but it is a method likely to help the 85 per cent of women drivers for whom a reverse park is a fluke that occurs in the first five attempts or they drive off.

I don’t know how I do it, nor do most men. We look, reverse, turn the wheel one way then the other, and we’re in.

There is good reason for the difference in reverse parking capacities of men and women but women become very prickly when it is even gently suggested that there is a difference, and there is, I’m sure, a good reason for that too.

Women are horrified by any suggestion that men and women are different other than physically, unless, of course, it’s in their favour. They like to crow – yes, women have taken to crowing – that unlike men they can do more than one thing at once, but suggest that they’re hopeless at reverse parking and you’re a sexist dinosaur!

The reason for this difficulty with reverse parking is well established, and made much of by Allan Pease in his books, and that is that the part of the brain involved in the perception of space, the parietal cortex, is smaller and less defined in women than in men. Pease suggests also that this is the reason most women don’t use a vehicle’s rear-vision mirror as freely as men and as often as they should, and while I don’t know the reason I do know from my own observations that women drivers are much less likely to be aware of what’s happening behind them.

It may be this difference, too, that is responsible for the difficulty many women find navigating with a map.

We all know there are differences in the capacities and thinking of men and women – life is better for it – and we have moved on from the silliness that acknowledging the differences somehow was to deny the equality of men and women.

I know, too, that my wife, and women in general, can do a number of things at the same time, multitasking, while I must give one thing all my attention. My wife, for example, may have a number of activities running at the same time, managing each of them more or less simultaneously, while I’m incapable of doing even the simplest thing while listening, actually listening, to the radio. The reason for the difference is, I read, that women have more powerful connectivity between the left and right sides of the brain.

I don’t need to know that the language parts of the female brain are bigger than those of the male brain, or that women use both halves of the brain to process language while men favour just one half, to know that women have much better language skills.

I hear it every day at home when my wife and daughters and sons speak, I hear it every day at work, and I am sure the difference is more pronounced in young people.

Have you ever watched a woman reverse parking while talking to the passenger? What differences have you noted in the mental processes of men and women?

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