The Peel region is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in Canada and is home to 18 per cent of the province’s immigrant population. Driving schools report a significant spike in requests for female driving instructors.
Local marketplaces and social media forums in the region, which has 69 per cent of the residents from racialized communities, are also flooded with similar requests.
Experts, driving schools and residents say that requests for female instructors are due to multiple causes. It may be inherent cultural preference; comfort with a fellow woman within the close confines of a vehicle; unpleasant experiences with men in public spaces; or an erosion of faith in the social safety net in the Peel region.
Mississauga resident Chandra Mouli recently posted on his social networks asking for references for a “female driving instructor” for his wife.
Mouli moved from India to Canada four years ago and says he believes women are more patient when it comes to teaching. “My wife never drove a car,” he said. “I thought she would feel comfortable with a female instructor.”
Khushnuma Haider launched her driving school, The Driving Tutors in Mississauga in 2020 to specifically serve clients like Mouli.
“As a driving instructor, my husband was often approached by students, the majority of whom had religious or cultural preference for a female instructor,” Haider said. “Obviously, my husband was not the right fit for them and they were disappointed.
“That’s when we identified the need for a driving school to address their demands and opened our second driving school.”
Haider said many of her clients, including those from South Asia, believe that male instructors won’t be as calm as female instructors so they specifically ask for females.
“Most of them started learning with a male member of their own family, and maybe they did not have good experiences,” Haider said.
Monika Gaddu, an instructor and owner of Good Drivers, in the Peel region, primarily teaches young professionals and students. She says there is a need for more female instructors to meet the rising demand.
Over the last three years, she said the requests for female driving instructors have increased by 40 per cent. Many newcomers and international students settle in the region because of its well-developed public transit system.
“A lot of parents feel more comfortable sending their 16 or 17-year-olds with a female versus a male.” Gaddu said. “They’ve also probably seen or heard stories about things that unfortunately happened.”
Linda Wang, a long-time resident of the Peel region and an expert on settlement services, said that parents in her personal network strictly look for female driving instructors for their university-age daughters because they are wary of crime in the area.
“East Asian communities like ours don’t have gender biases when it comes to teaching any life skill, but the overall situation is deteriorating in this region, naturally triggering anxiety among parents.”
Amrita is an NCM-CAJ Collective Member, journalist and content writer, with nearly a decade of experience in content development and journalism in three countries. She started her career as a journalist with a leading daily, The Statesman, in India. She has also led content and editorial teams for several web content management firms. Amrita served as a Communications and Content specialist for some non-profit organizations like the American Red Cross after her move to the U.S. Based out of Toronto, she continues to follow her passion by reporting on human rights violations, education, crimes, inequality and community engagement. Amrita holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Print Journalism from Chennai, India.