Why Do Men Sit On The Left And Women Sit On The Right?

This is no joke. Sorry if you thought I was going to double you up with laughter. No, today I’m talking stereotyping! I thought it a thing of the past, but it seems it’s as evident today as it has always been.

Take, for example, television. Have you ever noticed that during a pub scene on a TV show, the men seem to be constantly drinking pints or bottles of beer while women are drinking glasses of wine or a gin/vodka tonic?

How often have you seen a man in a pub scene drinking a glass of wine and a woman drinking a beer? Some may say it’s down to taste, but surely not all the men in Coronation Street only drink beer while the women always order a glass of wine?

I’ll give it to Emmerdale (another UK soap opera), as I have seen at least one female character (the vicar!) drinking a pint of beer. It’s refreshing to see, but I’ve yet to see any of the men walk in and ask for a gin and tonic! It’s always “pint please, Chas.”

Let’s turn our attention to the news. I know many people don’t watch the news on TV because it’s always depressing, but take ‘Breakfast’, the BBC early morning news programme.

Why does the man always sit on the left of the screen and his co-presenter, a woman, always sit on the right? Is it some kind of power struggle? Why can’t they occasionally swap positions?

Charlie State and Naga Munchetty
Charlie State and Naga Munchetty, Presenters of BBC’s Breakfast – He always sits on the left while she always sits on the right.

Which leads me to why it always has to be a man and a woman when two people read the news on TV? ‘Breakfast’ occasionally has two women presenting the show, but I’ve never seen them have two men present the show. Why? Is it not acceptable to have two men present the news together?

It’s precisely the same over on ITV. The man sits on the left of the screen while the woman always sits on the right.

Have you noticed that the male presenter seems to be a lot older (not you, Charlie) than the woman presenter? Very rarely is it the other way around? Is there a reason for that?

Let’s move on to driving. Yesterday, while waiting to cross the road, I counted the number of cars that drove past where a man and woman sat in the front of the vehicle. Would you be surprised if I told you that it was the man who was driving in just about all of the cars?

I’ve seen it when on holiday as well. Most of the time, it’s the man who drives a hire vehicle while the woman sits in the front passenger seat.

It happens in our family all of the time. We go and collect my sister-in-law, and her husband and I can guarantee that my sister-in-law will sit in the back of the car while her husband will sit in the front passenger seat.

The same goes for my niece and her boyfriend. When they come down to visit us, he always does the driving regardless of whose car they are using.

Take two couples going off on a car journey together. Why do the men always sit together in the front while the two women sit in the back of the car?

London 2012 Olympic Games
Celebrating at the London 2012 Olympic Games

Sport also suffers from stereotyping. Today, I was delighted to hear that Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow won an Olympic bronze medal in the synchronised 10m platform diving.

On TV, ‘Breakfast’ mentioned it all morning, and the interview with Daley and Goodfellow was aired far too many times. They even interviewed a friend of Daley and Goodfellow who talked the audience through the last dive more times than I care to remember.

However, where were Clare Balding and Co when Ed Ling won an Olympic bronze medal in the men’s trap shooting for Great Britain? Was he not worthy of an interview, Ms Balding? And why, unlike Daley and Goodfellow, did he only get a few seconds of a mention on ‘Breakfast’? Ed, if you’re reading this then, unlike the BBC, I’d be delighted to interview you and celebrate the fact that you won an Olympic bronze medal.

Finally, let’s turn back to drink. How many of you ladies enjoy drinking whisky? Does anybody out there consider whisky is only a man’s drink? Why am I asking these questions? It’s something that recently came up in conversation.

It seems I’m as guilty as most others at stereotyping. Reading through this post, why did I put an exclamation mark after the word vicar? Do vicars not drink alcohol?

Do you have any examples of stereotyping in today’s world? Does it bother you, or is it something we just take for granted?


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143 thoughts on “Why Do Men Sit On The Left And Women Sit On The Right?

  1. Hi Hugh, I know this is an older topic, but I just discovered it, and it’s interesting. I have to say I’ve wondered about the driving thing too. My husband and I always did the same thing (now he doesn’t drive because of health issues.) But before this he always drove wherever we went. On the occasion that I picked him up at work I did keep driving from there.

    Another thing you made me think about is cooking on the grill. When we had a grill my husband always did the cooking. I however always cooked breakfast, always. One day my husband and I were talking about cooking breakfast and he just wasn’t comfortable cooking eggs. He said he didn’t know how. I told him if he could cook all the delicious foods he cooked on the grill he could most certainly cook a scrambled or fried egg. I gave him a couple lessons on how to cook a scrambled egg and then how to cook a fried egg without breaking the yolk. Low and behold that wonderful man surprised me with breakfast one morning when I got out of the shower it was sitting there waiting for me. He eventually became what I call the king of cooking sausage and peppers (although now I’m a vegetarian.) He made them better than I’ve had them cooked. Mine were good but his were excellent. I’m not sure why, must have been the love he put in them. 🙂

    I mowed the lawn once. We had a riding mower. I missed so many spots and had to go back over them. My husband always enjoyed making designs in the grass. LOL! He loved yard work and always made the yard look beautiful.

    You’ve raised some interesting things to think about with this post Hugh. These things I guess get ingrained in us?

    I just last week saw a video about women in Mexico building cars. These cars are made exclusively by women. They are breaking the stereotype. Good for them!!

    1. Thanks for reading this old post, Lea. Until earlier this year, it was my most viewed post.

      I think much of the stuff I mentioned in this post still goes on. One commenter said she always wondered why a woman would jump out of the driving seat when collecting her husband from somewhere and allow him to drive back home. I still see it happening today. It’s as if the husband is a lousy passenger.

      Thank you for sharing the story about your husband and how he lacked confidence in cooking eggs even though he was always happy to cook stuff on the grill. It’s very unusual to see a woman cooking at a BBQ. It always seems to be men doing the cooking, yet some lack confidence in preparing meals in the kitchen.

      Your story about mowing the lawn reminded me of a story my last-surviving aunt always tells me of how my uncle would never pick up or move any items off a sideboard or windowsill when dusting. On the odd occasion when he had to dust, he always dusted around objects rather than pick them up and dust under them. He told her that she was much better at dusting than he was. But I guess it’s what was ingrained in him growing up.

      It’s sad, but some men (and even some women) don’t have confidence in a woman fixing a car or fixing a leak, let alone changing a tyre on a car, yet I see many younger women now doing full-time jobs as mechanics and tradespeople. Breaking the stereotypes is very much a work-in-progress.

  2. Great post, Hugh! I have the same questions, who did come up with these rules?The driving is what makes me more upset. Sometimes I see the wives coming to the university to pick up the husbands, and they come out of the car to let the husband take the driver seat! Why? The woman was already driving, why the need to give the wheel to the man? Now, answering your question, I don’t like whisky because of the taste of it, but I love my beer!

    1. This is my most ever viewed post, Elizabeth. Four years on, and it’s still getting daily hits.

      Thanks so much for reading it and answering my question. Good to hear you like beer.

  3. Hmmm you really got me thinking Hugh. I know there are countless views on this. Well, in my book, I’m pretty cool with the sitting positions my hubby and I take …..so long as I’m the only one seated on the throne of his heart. 🙂

    1. I’m sure you are, and always will be.

      Thanks for reading and commenting on this post from 2016. After three years, I’m amazed it’s still getting read, and readers continue to leave comments on it. No wonder it’s become my most successful post.

      1. You present such interesting dishes for us to digest. Your blog is pretty much like life…. a dash of various ingredients that make eating and reading, for that matter, a scrumptious delight! ❤️

  4. That’s why I don’t believe the statistics about women being “better” or “safer” drivers. Women drive less, so they crash their cars less. Those are the real statistics. It may be considered “sexist” nowadays, but the sexes did indeed evolve to have certain biological differences, including the superior motor skills and increased fondness for fast-paced physical activity often seen in men. Driving is one of those activities; driving, sledding, skating, running, climbing, etc all have similar effects on the brain. Women aren’t necessarily worse drivers, but they often enjoy it less or fear it more. Thus they either avoid driving OR they (try to) drive cautiously.

    I’m a woman, and I don’t drive. Never wanted to, never have, and hopefully I never will. I refuse to even try. If I ever learn to drive, it would have to be out in the country, and my husband will have to teach me. He drives me everywhere, which isn’t much. Everyone else makes me nervous. Especially my parents; throughout my teenage years, they constantly harassed me about learning how to drive. No thanks. My husband enjoys driving, and I’ve met few women who do.

    1. I remember my partner, at the time, hounding me to learn to drive when I reached 18. By the time I was 21, I was still not driving, because it wasn’t something that interested me. Then he gave me six driving lessons for my 21st birthday. Of course, I took the lessons but didn’t pass my driving test until the third attempt. Even to this day, I don’t enjoy driving and always much prefer to be in the passenger seat. However, strangely enough, my last job was as the Car Fleet Manager for a large company. It was only meant to last six months, but 23 years later I left the position before taking early retirement.

      1. And that’s why I say men enjoy driving more ON AVERAGE. 🙂 I’ve met more men who don’t like driving than women who do. My guess? It’s an incredibly stressful and dangerous task, so both genders have good reason to be wary. But men are just a little better (on average) at working through their fight-or-flight response. The roads are wet and icy in these parts, and my husband claims to enjoy driving in such weather BECAUSE it scares him. Weirdo…

  5. There is the world of the blatant misogynist and the more subtle world of institutional bias; the kind of bias that seems almost invisible; I still catch myself holding doors for women or pausing before shaking hands with a woman. As a child, I was taught that holding a door open for a woman or not shaking her hand was good manners. These behaviors become automatic.

    1. I agree, Rob, although I do offer my seat to an elderly person regardless of whether they are male or female. Like you say, it was something I was taught to do when growing up. However, I still don’t get why men always seem to sit to the left of a woman. I can’t see what would be wrong if he sat to the right of her. I’m guessing it’s just something from the subconscious that makes this happen?

    2. As a woman, I appreciate those “misogynistic” niceties. Gender equality is one thing, but in my not-so-humble opinion, the world is becoming blatantly misandrist. I see more sexism against my husband than I’ve ever personally experienced. His mother taught him to hold doors for women, yet even she expresses misandry toward her own son and brother. She’s on the phone right now talking bad about “all” men.

  6. Maybe you’re right and it is a regional thing, Val. I’ve still never found out the answer as to why men sit to the left of women. Somebody mentioned it had something to do with it making it easier for the man to draw his sword. Maybe many hundreds of years ago, but it’s strange that even in today’s world, you often see men sitting (or walking) to the left of a woman.

  7. Well, I don’t how..But I did..Miss this post so it is my first time of reading it…Thanx Hugh! I would be better off in complete ignorance now I am looking at everything… Haha..I don’t Drink beer but love brandy…Always pay the bills and order the wine though…Hubby doesn’t carry cash, doesn’t use an ATM…never ever wrote a cheque, doesn’t………. This could be a post……He does, however, drink beer, eat, read and cleans my windows… Look what you have started….haha. Happy New Year 🙂

    1. It does get you thinking, doesn’t it Carol? Are we creatures of habit, or is it something we just do without thinking about? I think the only reason why this was my most viewed post in 2017 is that lots of people were searching for the answer on Google and were ending up on this post. Shame I couldn’t really give them any answers…just more questions. 😀

  8. Could it be because alphabetically Greg’s name comes first? Then again, we’re known as John and Hugh, so maybe it’s to do with age? 🤔 I always like to walk on the outside of John so I can protect him if a cyclist mounts the pavement. Or maybe it’s because I can get away from him quickly when I tell him I’ve been spending in the Apple store again? 😂 Who knows, but the answers are probably endless.

  9. I have read about this before. The left hand position is considered the dominant position because that is the way our brain works and we read left to right. Be interesting to watch the news in say, Saudi Arabia, but my guess is that it is two men?

  10. I always thought my (women’s) positioning was due to convenience. I sleep to the left of my husband only because it is closer to the door and easier to tend to children in the night without waking him. Who drives comes down to who’s car we are taking. No one wants to fiddle with seat positions. Although, I would always prefer he drive because of the considerable nagging about speed and how fast corners are turned; too fast! Also if he is driving I’m free to again, tend to the children. I have been shifted away from the roadside on busy streets in his attempt to keep me safe though. The media is more mixed in the US, but not f/m equal, mind you. I have seen two men doing news shows. Also our sitcoms regularly have women ordering beers. Any woman would go broke ordering those froo froo drinks. 9$ for one drink when a beer is 3$; BEER PLEASE!

    1. I’m so pleased to hear that there are places in the world who do have two men presenting the news together. I’ve never ever seen it (although I have often seen two women present the news), so it’s great to hear from you and for you to confirm that it is happening.
      Beer at $3? Wow! You got a bargain there. A beer in London, these days, is way over £5, but you’re right about it being less expensive than a glass of wine.
      Thanks so much for joining in this debate with your thoughts.

  11. I think you pretty much covered it. You could add paying bills in the restaurant or ordering wine with a meal… Usually it is the guy who is in charge (put in charge)…

    People are an interesting bunch…

    1. You’ve touched on something where this happens that nobody else mentioned, Sandra. Ordering the wine! Very true. And you’re right about paying the bill (although I have seen a few women pay the bill when it’s the man’s birthday).

      1. Hahaha… I think the paying the bill is turning into a 50/50 thing but the ordering the wine is one of those things. I often observe women knowing exactly what they want but it’s still the man who orders…

        1. I suppose it’s very much like going to the bar to order a drink? It always seems to be the man who will order. I once went to a restaurant where there were no prices on some of the menus. Can you guess who those menus were given to?

  12. I’m not sure who sits where on our news shows but the younger woman and older man holds up with Sunrise a popular breakfast show here in Australia.
    My husband sits in the couch to the left at home in the corner while I have the couch closest to the corridoor but that’s from an access point of view and I do get up and down a lot more than him.
    One trend you haven’t mentioned is which side of the bed couples sleep on. We have an ensuite so I sleep nearest the bathroom while my husband sleeps near the door. I have mobility issues too which account for this but I have heard it’s a gender thing.
    My husband drives everywhere and mostly puts petrol in the car as well. I have no sense of direction and gender stereotype again, can’t read maps but refuse to use GPS in case it gets any worse.
    I barely drink and my husband drinks wine instead of beer.
    xx Rowena

    1. Which side of the bed we sleep of was mentioned in some on the comments, Rowena, but I didn’t really want to go there. To be honest, it never crossed my mind, but it seems there could be a trend there as well.

      I think you’ve given very good reasons why you sit on the right, sleep near the bathroom, etc, but I’m still wondering why those newsreaders sit in the same place on every show. A couple of other items has also been brought up such as it’s always the man who leads, while the woman will announce the time, etc. Something I need to watch out for and see if true here in the UK.

      Thank you very much for reblogging this post. It’s certainly resulted in some very interesting comments about what I highlighted.

      Best wishes,
      Hugh 😀

  13. Good observation Hugh. I’ve noticed the presenters take the lead from the male too. He will announce the headlines while she alternatively gives the time and highlights after him.
    I like whiskey, on occasion, and never drink beer in public lol! The Hubble likes me to drive, so we share road trips and the experience which is something most of the female members in our family refuse to do. They don’t drive on the motorway for some odd reason.

    1. I always thought driving on motorways was the easy bit, but maybe that’s a male thing? 😀
      Thanks for joining in the debate, Eloise. This post certainly got many of you talking about these invisible stereotypes.

    1. A few people mentioned about the sword thing. Hard to believe that as we men no longer have any need for a sword, that the seating position on the TV is still governed by it. However, yesterday on Breakfast for the first time I’ve seen, the presenters had switched positions. I wonder if somebody at the BBC read this post? 🤔

  14. Great points… You are so right as to how women and men are mostly placed that way on TV shows and news. Now, I’d Love to find an exception (at least one!)
    Funny and Clever post, Hugh. Thanks and have a Lovely day. Aquileana ✨

    1. I hope we do eventually find out the answer, Auuileana. So far, I don’t believe we’ve had an answer that we can seriously say “yes, that’s why” but the BBC still have time to respond. I’m doubting they will, though.

  15. My hearing aid is in my right ear, that’s why I stay to Pat’s left… But, I am suppose to have two. Lol. 😁

  16. The problem is, stereotyping is how kids learn, because they build heuristics in their brain based on ‘generalisations’ were programmed to bloody stereotype. It’s horrendous really, but when you think about it, it’s makes sense in evolutionary terms.

    ‘Generally lions ate you. Generally red berries were poisonous!’

    But that doesn’t make it right.

    1. True, and I do agree with you in that much of it stems from how we are brought up. Still doesn’t explain why he always sits on the left and she always sits on the right, though. I’m still hoping the BBC will contact me with their reasons.

  17. I can’t say that I’ve ever thought about the news before but you do have a point. And with the driving! My hubby always drives if we have a long journey but I tend to drive him back locally when we’re out with friends. Bit of give and take!

  18. Interesting observations there, Hugh; and lots of great comments. It is the same situation with the news and talk shows here in Australia. Funny I’d never thought to notice it before. I must admit that, as a right-hander, I carry my bag over my left shoulder and prefer to hold my husband’s hand in my right. It’s more comfortable that way. Also, you’ll mostly find him in the driver’s seat and me (asleep) in the passenger’s. He loves to drive and I do it only as a necessity. I guess we maintain the stereotype now that you’ve pointed it out, but I hadn’t thought about it before. Oh, and he only drinks beer in a bar, rarely anything else. I never drink beer. I used to enjoy a glass of whiskey sweetened with lemonade, but not for a very long time!

    1. Thank you for joining the debate, Norah. I think you’ve proved me right in that a lot of stereotyping is invisible these days. We just never think about it, but it’s there right in front of us. I’ve loved the comments that this post has produced although we’ve yet to establish why our newscasters always sit in the same position regardless of who is reading the news. It looks as if we’ll never find out the answer (unless the BBC do decide to tell me the secret).

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