Isn’t safety a more important issue than helping women find their car keys?

I was about to post about why motor manufacturers continue to patronise women drivers when I saw this on .

I really wish I could say it was a man driving, but apparently a 49-year-old woman, backed up through the second floor rear wall of this multi-story car park in Langenhagen in Germany.

This is the result of what is termed “.”  Back in the 1990s, this was a big public relations issue for Audi in the US – and is the reason why you can no longer start automatic cars unless they are in park or neutral.

Understandably the driver always feels the car must be to blame when such disasters occur.  Such incidents tend to involve older drivers and a report on casualties among older drivers indicates an increasing cause of concern. 

So back to my original topic regarding women drivers which was the Saab “Saab Purse..  Picking up loads of coverage, I can’t believe I am reading: Ladies: You need never fumble your keys again – at least never fumble them in an unstylish manner – thanks to Saab’s ‘Little White Purse’

Launched at London Fashion Week, the Osman Yousefzada designed accessory aims 

to reduce the approximately one day per year the average woman spends digging around for her keys… It costs about $150, and is constructed of Italian leather and a nice, heavy silver plated chain.

I had a discussion yesterday at Cardiff University when speaking with students on the course about gender issues.  In particular, the lack of women members in the , and dealership attitudes.

Shouldn’t the car industry be more focused on the issue of car safety in relation to an aging population rather than designing, and promoting patronising rubbish like this? 

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

11 thoughts on “Isn’t safety a more important issue than helping women find their car keys?”

  1. Actually, it’s my husband who always loses the car keys. We once had to call the AA out to unlock his car when he misplaced them somewhere, but I understand they don’t do that any more.

  2. Maybe it depends on how the car had been designed, I think older cars are easier to get into. I did this about two years ago and one of the services, can’t remember now, got into my L reg corsa without a scratch on the paintwork. Mind you, it took him an hour and lots of huffing and puffing. Maybe the time factor involved in this makes it harder for them to to it anymore.

  3. When I worked for National Breakdown (now Green Flag), locking yourself in/out of a car was very common. Back then it was easy to have duplicates, but things are more complicated these days, not least because of immobilizers. One of my bosses when I was at Toyota lost his car keys when entertaining the media on a “booze cruise” trip to France launching the Hilux Doublecab pick-up. We had to get one of our colleagues to drive out with the spare set – my boss of course had already returned with another vehicle leaving us poor PRs to sort out the mess. Needless to say, it was one of those days when the snow hit the UK and it took us hours to get from Dover back to Surrey. Whenever someone acted like a prima donna after that, they were know as a Gazzard in honour of that boss.

  4. I remember Nissan’s marketing campaign when they brought out the new Micra a few years ago. I thought I’d fallen through some bizarre time warp and landed in the 1950s. Lots of reference to plenty of boot space for all your shopping, remote locking so you don’t have to fumble for your keys in the rain and mess up your hair and power steering so it’s easier to park in busy streets when you’re out with the girls. No mention of engine size, how many miles to the gallon, safety features or insurance groups. I was only surprised that they didn’t have a footnote telling us to ask our husbands or fathers for permission to buy one.

  5. I mentioned the Micra yesterday and how it had a reputation entirely as a girly car, which meant in fact it had little credibility for most women wanting to own one. It is bizarre how messages are dumbed down in the car world for women – a friend just told me that over half of all new car buyers are now female, so why do they do it? I’m interested particularly to see whether we will start to get more women motoring journalists and if they will resist the stereotypes of the “little lady” and motoring.

  6. Couldn’t the industry do both, Heather? Perhaps there are ladies who would appreciate this and it’s not the industry – it’s just one brand. I’d like an automatic woolly cap holder and dispenser in my car, to stop it falling on the floor.

  7. It is an interesting question about whether you can avoid patronising some people (not necessarily women) whilst appealing to others who like different things. This fits with the talk about political correctness which of course aims to offend no-one and by itself offends lots of people.

    Now, is the woolly cap holder and dispenser the next big accessory – probably only if designed by Versace.

  8. Now, i’m a terrible woman for losing her keys – not that I have a car – keys to the house and unimportant stuff like that. But I find this incredibly patronising! If I want a purse, I’ll buy a purse – from a handbag store, not a car manufacturer!

  9. Sherrilynne – welcome and thanks for your comments.

    Welshcakes – as Ellee noted, it isn’t an exclusively woman thing for losing the keys. In fact, isn’t one of the reasons why women carry handbags so their blokes can offload the house and car keys, their wallet, etc etc etc. Having said that – I can regularly decant half a dozen lipsticks and other “stuff” from my handbag. I even impressed a meeting the other day by producing a remote control device for a laptop and projector from the depths of my handbag. Sad, but true….

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