Don’t “Skep my Nav.” GPS designed by men may not be ideal for women

Language has a funny way of evolving, sometimes to fit technology we use, and sometimes to describe our times. I was driving the other day and my co-pilot asked over and over “are you sure this is the way?” All I could say was “please don’t skep my nav!”

They looked dumbfounded so I had to slow down to explain. This post is for you in preparation for that moment when someone close to you uses utterly incomprehensible language in their frustration over navigation.

Skep = Skeptical

Nav = Navigation

Don’t Skep My Nav = please don’t ask questions about my sense of direction, I will get us there if you just sit back and enjoy the ride

Why are men less likely than women to want to clarify where they are headed?

A New York Times article from years ago offers a clue to the mystery. It notes that men tend to navigate by motion and vectors, while women use landmarks and references.

Image of Man Driving a Car, he might be saying don't skep my nav
Does he really know where he is going?

But use of mapping software tends to skew male. More men download Google Maps than women, even though smartphone penetration and drivers licenses are relatively evenly divided. Why is this happening?

Men designed the GPS apps

It turns out that most mapping software is designed by men. In fact over 80% of the engineers on tech teams at the leading technology companies are male. The engineers that create these apps are designing for what intuitively works for them. But half of the users are women, and as we noted above, women tend to navigate differently from men.

Google maps icon - app for Navigation using GPS, please don't be either skeptical or skep someone's  nav skills
A challenge for the engineers to take the entire audience into account!

If we skep the app, will it change?

The most popular GPS mapping apps and software including Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, or Mapquest are all designed to show a map view, and are not good at providing visual queues or landmarks. The challenge is for one of these companies, or a new upstart, to develop a visually oriented mapping system that delivers navigation instructions in a way that is more intuitive for women.

Please think twice before “skepping someone’s nav”

So the next time you tell someone not to “skep your nav,” this little bit of insight might lead you to at least think about where their question is coming from. Please drive safe, and may all your navigation end with you where you set out to go, or somewhere else at least as interesting.

More on GPS, navigation, and the gender gap

As followup, there is an interesting blog post on this topic from Geospatial World on Why men use navigation apps more than women.

There are also statistics and background on what they are developing from Google itself on their cloud blog.

And if you enjoyed this post, you can check out more of our language posts here.

Don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments below. Especially if you have had a chance to try out the phrase “don’t skep my nav!”

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