In celebration of Women’s Month, we thought we’d go back in time and salute the world’s first female taxi drivers.
Female Horse-Drawn Taxi Drivers
And by back in time, we mean way back – as in before those 20,000 brave aunties, mommies and grannies took to the streets of Pretoria. Welcome to 20th-century Paris, where the taxis are carriages and the engines are horses. Men predominantly drove these horse-drawn cabs, but on the odd occasion that a woman took to the driver’s seat they would be called ‘Les Femmes Cocher.’ Sounds pretty, doesn’t it?
These women drivers not only had to know every street and alley in the city and ‘burbs, but also required a thorough knowledge of horse medicine and horse handling. After all, these living and breathing engines were their bread and butter – a healthy horse meant a wealthy driver (or at least better off).
Celebrity Lady Cabbies
In 20th-century Paris, everyday was Women’s Day – at least when they were spotted guiding a carriage down the street. That’s because these “lady liveries” caused quite a stir when they first came on the taxi scene. We think the press probably had lots to do with it – they were quite a novelty back then. Female cabbies were so rare that people literally flocked to be driven by one, so much so that even the men played dress-up to coin it, too.
But being a celeb cabbie is hard work – many of the women taxi drivers dropped out opting for the slow lane. By the end of 1908 there were only 20 women cab drivers with many catching on to the newer, faster motorised variety.
Not much has changed as far as the ratio of female to male taxi drivers in modern times. Men still dominate the industry in most parts of the world today. Maybe we should try to change that for next year’s Women’s Month.