Is The UK Driving Licence Sexist?

brake-1198862_640If you drive you probably remember the first time that you took a lesson. Maybe you even remember the first time that you thought about getting your driving licence. It can be such a tiny moment in life that leads to the opening of so many doors. Fancy a road trip? Off you go. Want to visit the beach late one evening? You can just hop in your car. A car gives so much freedom to get what you want from life. You can drive in other countries with your licence and you can explore this lovely country that we live in too.

When applying for your driving licence, whether provisional or a full driving licence, chances are you were so excited to finally receive it that you didn’t notice one piece of sexism. When your little card finally comes through it can be such a proud day. This is the same whether you are waiting to start your driving lessons or you have finally passed your test. However many attempts it took! Getting your driving licence can be the start of so many amazing adventures in your life.

The first line of your driving licence shows your surname, which of course everyone has. Nothing wrong with that. Then on the second line you will see your title. Assuming that you are a woman of course. Or a male with an honorific title. Why is this? Is the UK Driving Licence sexist? It sure sounds like it! What possible reason could there be for only wanting to display the titles of females, not males. It seems that the DVLA doesn’t want to provide their reason – if they have one!

If you are a woman when you apply for your driving licence you can choose from one of a number of titles. These include ones such as Ms, Miss, Mrs or even ‘No title’. It seems that the DVLA are interested in the marital status of women. Who knows why?! Perhaps they want us to continue on the long standing tradition of jokes about female drivers. Quite why they want to know a woman’s marital status but not a man’s is anyone’s guess.

In years gone by there have been a number of attempts from various people, including politicians, to find out why this is. Zoe O’Connell, a Liberal Democrat councillor, raised the issue with the DVLA using a freedom of information request. The DVLA responded by talking about their recording of titles rather than why they are included on the driving licence in the first place.

Earlier this year another woman, as documented in this Evening Standard article, wrote to the DVLA to question their system. The DVLA responded to advise her that it is possible to request to have your title removed, by writing to them with a covering letter. However, why it asks in the first place still remains a mystery. It seems, from reports, that even if you use the ‘No title’ option that your driving licence may still arrive with a ‘Mrs’ in the place of ‘No Title’.