Too macho to use


From the blog

Too macho to use

Posted 22 November 2009 17:52 by martin

We were amused to catch someone say on Twitter recently: “My girlfriend swears by this – such a girl thing”.

Our survey results suggest more women than men use (though we've also been told that this may just be because more women fill in online surveys – anyone got the evidence for that?).

So let's air some theories for this gender bias:
  1. The hunter-gatherer theory:  Men are genetically more predisposed to unaided self-navigation as they were the ones chasing game across the African savannah, while the women stayed immobile, darning gazelle hides round the camp fire.
  2. The 'calorie counting is for girls' theory:  The route calorie count we display appeals more to diet-conscious women;  men are naturally more lithe and fit and don't need to worry about such trivial things.
  3. The 'I can just ask someone' theory:  Women prefer to know where they're going in advance, while men just head out, and should they get lost, are more than happy to ask a stranger for directions.
  4. The boys and toys theory: Men are more likely to navigate using a graphite-lithium ionizing multi-USB port side-winding GPS device that also allows you to email, tweet and watch real-time footie results all at the same time.
  5. The Jeremy Clarkson theory: just needs to be more like Top Gear.
Let us know if you have your own theories – serious ones welcome too.

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  1. Jack Kirby says:

    November 22nd, 2009 at 9:12 pm (#)

    I think you've forgotten the 'I've got a map and I'm not afraid to use it' theory. (And some of us can map-read too!)

  2. Will says:

    November 24th, 2009 at 12:18 pm (#)

    I don't think the 'I can just ask someone' theory applies – everyone knows that most men would rather forcibly emasculate themselves than ask for directions.

    I go with the “Have map, will read” and “calory counting is for girls” theories myself.

  3. Chris Bunnett says:

    November 26th, 2009 at 4:08 pm (#)

    I always use… Does this mean I'm a girl? What will I tell my wife and kids? Will I need therapy? If so, where will I find it? I could just ask someone, but…

  4. Sheena McCullagh says:

    November 26th, 2009 at 4:57 pm (#)

    Theory 1 – Even though we have equality in the work place, women are still the primary carers for the children, so come school holidays when mum is trying to find something to do with the……..

    And dad has the car because he needs it for work :o)……….

    And little kids legs get tired quicker than adults, so the shortest route is required……..

    Why not turn to walkit???

    Theory 2 – Related to theory one. Anyone who has to go on a journey with kids really doesn't want the prospect of getting lost with them (and perhaps would like to be able to answer the question 'Are we nearly there yet?'). It therefore becomes eminently sensible to know the precise route before you set out rather than simply sallying forth with the A to Z tucked under your arm!!! (And yes, that is the voice of experience talking :o)

    The thing is, we do this pre-planning for so many years while the children are growing up, that even after they've flown the nest (with or without maps – LOL), it is ingrained in us and we just keep on doing it.

    Theory 3 – Someone sent me an email recently saying that the chemical difference between men and women (I think it was testosterone levels), generally gives men the edge in spacial awareness. I've no idea if this is true, but working on the basis that it is, men may be able to extract all the turn left, turn right info from a map alone, whereas the instructions on walkit aid people (mainly women) who are less likely to be able to get the info from just looking at a map.

    Theory 4 – men are more likely to jump into the car than women, even for short journeys. When I was a-courtin' my first husband, he always offered to drive me where I needed to go. One day he offered this for a journey that, due to foot paths, was much, much quicker to walk. My mum said to him, “You do realise that you can't drive up the aisle don't you?”

    Thing is, every man I've ever been out with has been the same and my dad is too.

    General comment – it would be interesting to see if there is this gender split in the use of Google maps which gives driving instructions. If that proves to be closer to 50:50, or more men than women, it looks like it could be down to who uses the car more, rather than any of the theories listed by Jamie in the original post.

  5. Nicolas Holzapfel says:

    November 26th, 2009 at 5:25 pm (#)

    Maybe it's just a coincidence caused by the way has spread from person-to-person and at some point.

    I've really no idea. It's never even occurred to me that it would be a 'girl thing' or a 'boy thing'. How did the tweeter explain his strange words?

    Never noticed any gender-related pattern myself. But then I know too few people sufficiently motivated to use to identify any pattern at all.

    I would point out the 'boys and toys' theory doesn't really hold up. is a toy! It's full-on geeeky techy gadgetery. Personally I do use a GPS thingymejib on my pda/phone as a map. But I still frequently use as a more convenient way to plan routes and see how long things will take.

    The maps-not-direction theory doesn't make much sense to me either since… has maps! (for me the maps are more important than the directions).

  6. Polly Robey says:

    November 26th, 2009 at 5:49 pm (#)

    Easy – men won't ever admit to not knowing anything. all the ones I know would sooner walk around for an hour getting lost than admit they had to look directions up. I wonder if the AA/RAC/ViaMichelin sites have the same gender bias.

  7. Caroline Coyle says:

    November 27th, 2009 at 11:16 am (#)

    The One Show featured a piece on male & female navigation a couple of months ago.Seems we use different bits of out brain; men really do have an inbuilt navigation system whilst women need some points of reference, such as landmarks, to navigate.

    In this household, the man plays lots of sport but typically drives to get there; the woman (me) tends to incorporate walking into other things to exercise as I go. When he does walk he usually just sets off & works the route out as he goes; I like to have a plan. Maybe it's a sub-conscious need for safety.

  8. Simon says:

    November 27th, 2009 at 4:26 pm (#)

    I'll confess I never ever ask , until I found walkit I used google maps (streetview very handy in cities for landmarks) , or a printed streetmap ,and one device no one mentions anymore , no batteries , free to use , no signal loss , lasts for ever , waterproof , simple and reliable ……….. A Compass , very handy in cities as well.

  9. Amanda Brace says:

    December 2nd, 2009 at 9:04 pm (#)

    I like all the theories apart from number 5 – please don't blow up any caravans it won't help!

    In our house, my other half likes the theory of Walkit but never uses it…preferring his GPS to tell him he is at the bus stop round the corner/on the train near Peterborough/hopelessly lost (delete as appropriate) rather than do a bit of planning on Walkit, navigate by landmarks, use his inate sense of direction or ask for directions…

    I also like maps and can read them so we're not all stereotypes here.

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