As more women tackle the challenge of learning to drive, demand for female driving instructors has increased.
Around ten percent of instructors in ireland are now female, according to the Road Safety Authority (RSA). Karl Walsh of ISM, Ireland’s oldest driving School, says the number of women who have taken the three RSA exams needed to qualify as an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), has jumped in the last decade.
In 2010 a website was launched dedicated to helping women find female instructors in every county in Ireland. It is run by a female marketing professional, Fiona, who is also a qualified driving instructor.
Driving schools covering the Dublin 4 area have noticed increased demand for female instructors. Karl says that women learning at ISM do ask for female instructors, but it is not a big thing. An instructor’s gender should not make any difference, he stressed.
Nevertheless, a number of learners have told driving schools they prefer to take lessons from female instructors. There are a few reasons. Some people feel more comfortable dealing with women, while others want female instructors for religious reasons. Mags O’Connell of Look School of Motoring gets a lot of business from customers through the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh. Mags set up Look SOM four years ago, after four years teaching at other Dublin driving schools. Her business is mostly word of mouth recommendations from women to their friends.
Mags is part of a network of female instructors covering south Dublin, who help each other with lesson cover during busy periods. “The only way to tell if an instructor is right for you and if you will be comfortable with that person is to take a lesson with them. You should never sign up for a block of lessons in case you don’t like them. Women tell me they find it easier to learn when they are more comfortable and many people are less intimidated when learning with a woman,” she says. She points out that essential driver training has 12 stages and that it may take some people more than 12 lessons to master what they need to at all stages.
David McDonnell of http://www.learntodrivedublin.ie has been an ADI for 12 years. He has three female drivers, Jacintha, Mary and Marion, who all teach in Dublin 4. “Women looking specifically for women instructors is a growing part of our business. It’s not really a common thing, but it has always been there,” he explains.
ISM has three female ADIs who cover Dublin 4 and they would like to hire more female instructors as ISM learners are equally split between male and female drivers. Karl points out that it’s quite a family-friendly job, as it can often allow instructors to work flexible hours close to home. Karl says ISM’s business has doubled since 12 compulsory lessons (Essential Driver Training) were introduced in April 2011. “Before that, lots of people used to learn with their parents,” he said.
Kevin Horgan of the National Driving School in Mount Merrion says female instructors are especially popular with his many international clients. His school boasts a 98% pass rate and has been established for 22 years. He remembers that 15 or 20 years ago, some women clients were reluctant to take lessons from female instructors. “They didn’t like being told what to do by another woman. That has completely changed in recent years,” says Kevin.
Motoring schools covering Dublin 4
Irish School of Motoring, ISM is Ireland’s oldest driving school.
Phone: 1850 530 430.
Mags O’Connell, Look SOM. Phone: 086 3334219.
Kevin Horgan, National SOM, Mount Merrion.
Phone: 085 2853333.
David Mc Donnell, www.learntodriveDublin.ie
Phone: 01 4061925.
Phone Fiona at 086496189.
Above: Mags O’Connell, of Look School of Motoring.
By Shan Kelly