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Maria Nordqvist receives equality award

Maria Nordqvist from the Swedish motorcyclists organization SMC received the award ‘Star of Equality’ from the organization ‘Network for Women in Transport politics’.

The motivation for the award was: “Maria Nordqvist has been fighting for a gender neutral rider exam for motorcycles since she started working with SMC. The statistics show that women fail the rider test more often, in spite of more training in traffic schools, more training with private mentors as well as better results at the theory tests.”

SMC asked for a review due to the obvious difference between women and men. In 2013, the government asked the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute VTI, to do an investigation. The report showed that the higher share of failure among women was a result of the manoeuvres in low speed. These tests are more difficult for shorter persons. Since women are (in general) shorter than men, this is a disadvantage for women. The report also showed that women are older when they get a motorcycle license. Higher age is a negative factor when trying to pass the rider test for motorcycles in Sweden.

The investigation was finished 2014. The results of the investigation were many. The authorities in charge have done several changes in order to make the rider test for motorcycles more equal, for example the withdrawal of one out of two manoeuvre tests, focus on riding in traffic in the rider test, gender education of the test inspectors, discussion on equal treatment of the students in the riding tests and lower bikes at several traffic schools. The work started in 2015 and has already shown that the difference in approvals in the riding tests was reduced.

There are differences in the exam results between women and men in more European countries, for example in Netherlands, Great Britain and Norway. The manoeuvre test seem to be the part of the test where women fail more often in all these countries. The difference grows with the requirements of the test vehicles, from A1 to A. The new weight and requirements for test vehicles for an A license from 2019 might increase the difference between women and men even more (the new requirements for test vehicles: 180 kilos, 50 kW and a minimum of 600 cc).

maria_110316_2The Network for Women in Transport politics want to show the structural difficulties for women that exist where the norms are set by male bodies. Another example is the crash dummy which is based on a man. Maria’s work has been, and is, very important for highlighting the differences so they can be fixed.

The award to Maria was, beside the honour, a diploma and a cheque of €1000.

Maria’s reaction: ““Women start riding at an older age compared to men, age is seen as a positive factor for road safety. Women are generally safer in traffic. Women spend much more time and money on rider training before going to the rider test. That this leads to women failing the riding test for motorcycles more often than men do, is hard to understand. I’m very happy with the changes that have been made in Sweden in order to reduce the difference between men and women. Hopefully this will lead to more female riders!”