GPS is certainly becoming more commonplace in the world today, invading cell phones, car navigators, tablets, and media players. However, there is evidence that there is still a gender divide when it comes to approaches to navigation. It is only fair that we ask the question: Is GPS just a "stupid guy thing"?
It is suspected that the male reaction to GPS is hardwired into his Y chromosome. Evolutionists would surmise that it comes from a genetic defect that compensates for another gender based defect, a reluctance to ask for directions.
To help answer this question, we turn to a self proclaimed expert on gender relations, Dave Barry, who once wrote the definitive book on unexplained male tendencies, called Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys.
Dave Barry's well reasoned theories suggest that there are three distinct groups of adults: women, men, and guys. Much of the trouble in the modern world comes from guys trying to prove to themselves that they are men. While I'm sure that there a few men who use GPS, I would suggest the vast majority of us are most definitely guys.
Dave Barry once did some field research and discovered a distinct reaction in male and female persons to a GPS device:
We were flying from Chicago to Boston, and while everybody else was reading or sleeping, "Roger" and "Steve," who are both fully grown men, were staring at their GPS devices and periodically informing each other how far we were from the Boston airport. "Roger" would say, "I'm showing 238 miles," and "Steve" would say, "I'm showing 241 miles." Then "Roger" would say, "Now I'm showing 236 miles," and "Steve" would come back with another figure, and so on. My wife, who was confident that the airplane pilot did not need help locating Boston, thought this was the silliest thing she had ever seen. Whereas I thought: I NEED one of those.
If you are a guy like me and are reading this article, you probably have trouble understanding the wife's point of view. Perhaps you have been on a hike, broke out your GPS with digital topographic map, only to have a female member of your party comment "Aren't we just going to follow the trail anyway?". All the guys in the group will then look at her like she is from another planet. Then they realize that is one of those things about the opposite gender that they will *never* understand, but will nonetheless accept.
Surely today, with the variety of gps software on cell phones and other gadgets, some of that gender divide must have been bridged. After all, software like BackCountry Navigator includes (aerial) photography, some icons, and even mentions, the, er, relationship between several waypoints.
A recent survey provided some invaluable insight into this question. I was hoping to discover some of those different insights from men and women through the survey results. The conclusion was staggering. Please ensure that you are not drinking milk when you read this next sentence. The survey revealed conclusively that:
96% of BackCountry Navigator users are male.
If we managed to recruit one of the female users of the software, or perhaps *both* of the female users of the software, they would probably tell me that "It looks like a guy wrote the software." Guilty as charged.
So can we conclude that GPS is just a 'stupid guy thing'? Please comment, particularly if you are a woman. However, the chances that a woman will ever read this article are extremely low.