Crash test dummy

The person in the above definition is a man. Most crash test dummies are based on the body of a man, whilst women are 50% more likely to be seriously hurt in a real-life collision (data about people of other gender are, as per usual, not available). Crash test dummies have been around since the 1950s and it took big car companies 60 years to expand their test dummies beyond the male-modelled one.

American crash tests only started using female dummies in 2011. The European New Car Assessment Programme did in 2015. Even though this looks like progress, these “female” dummies are mostly just shorter versions of the male dummies; they lack the anatomical features of many women. Dr. Elizabeth Pollitzer (founder of the Gender Summit) remarked: “In the case of injuries in a car crash, there are important differences between a male and female body to do with muscle mass and the way the vertebrae are spaced, which affects injury patterns… Science is supposed to be unbiased but if it ignores, overlooks or prioritises men, the outcomes for women may not be as good.”

So, there is a need for crash test dummies that are not just modelled after male bodies, to make driving safer for people who are not men. The Swedes have now created the world’s first anatomically correct female crash test dummy to help manufacturers make vehicles that protect both men and women. This is a significant step forward, but women are still at a higher risk for car crash injuries and there is still a high need to address gender bias among automotive safety development and crash testing.