It was recently brought to our attention through an article from the Atlantic that for decades, car manufacturers failed women nation-wide by refusing to accurately surmise the effects various crashes can have on the female body.
For more than 30 years of crash-test-dummy testing, car manufacturers used one standard dummy which was meant to represent the average male body. Manufacturers assumed that the one-size-fits-all dummy would be adequate to test safety and damage for both men and women but that was absolutely not the case.
As a result of their singular testing on a dummy that weighed substantially more than many women, women were more often killed and injured in car crashes across the board.
As The Atlantic noted, if just one car manufacturer had woken up and spotted this potential for increased female consumer loyalty and cold hard cash, this issue could have been fixed much sooner and the company could have been lauded for its woman-positive culture.
“That cars were not tested to be safe for female bodies helps to explain why women are killed and injured in car accidents at disproportionately higher rates than men. It’s because women were not included in the analysis—at all.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 2011 that any car manufacturer began to use a smaller crash dummy meant to represent the female body. It was only then that manufacturers learned the real effects of car crashes on women drivers and passengers.
And what did they discover? The female dummies were injured at a surprising rate.
From The Washington Post:
“In general, experts say, the smaller the person, the fewer crash forces the body can tolerate. When cars wrap around trees or utility poles, for example, smaller drivers and passengers suffer more head, abdominal and pelvic injuries but fewer chest injuries than average-size people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Women’s less-muscular necks also make them more susceptible to whiplash, researchers say.
A 2011 study by the University of Virginia’s Center for Applied Biomechanics found that seat-belted female drivers in actual crashes had a 47 percent higher chance of serious injuries than belted male drivers in comparable collisions. For moderate injuries, that difference rose to 71 percent.”
As the Atlantic noted, this classic example of women being left out of some pretty basic safety testing is an indication of a wider problem in industry: when women are not in the room, often basic and vital issues are ignored or not even considered.
If a woman had been in a key position in any of these car manufacturers over the past 30 years, she might have wondered “why aren’t we testing for women?”
We can be glad that now, cars are tested for both men and women and that some of these negative trends can begin to be corrected. This example proves that all you have to do is include women in decisions that affect them and sweeping changes can be enacted.