Wonder Women of the Automobile Industry!
We present the list of 9 women who made a significant impact in the Automobile Industry across the globe.
Historically, the automobile industry has had a reputation of being a man’s World. Right from its conceptualization and its contemporary image today, the Car was and is driven, largely by the Men. However, the industry has evolved over time, to have been able to be convenient for both genders.
Here, we make a mention of the 9 innovative Women, who through their daring, innovativeness, and ingenuity played a very influential role in the industry. Their contributions, seemingly very fundamental then but recognized now, as integral to the growth of the Automobile Industry.
We highlight these 9 women in our article :
1. MARGARET A. WILCOX
She was a Mechanical Engineer. It is to her credit when she thought of inventing a way of directing the warm air from the Engine to the toes of the driver. This was most useful, especially, in the sub-zero temperatures of the colder regions of the United States, when the Automobile had started becoming popular. Her invention was what inspired the development of the Modern Heating system in Cars.
2. ALICE RAMSEY
At age 22 years, she became the first woman to drive from New York City to San Francisco. Her journey covered 3800 miles, of which only 152 miles was an actual paved road. She drove with her three other female friends, none of whom could drive. During the road trip, she had 11 flat tyres the spark plugs had to be kept clean, water to be used to cool the radiator, and a broken brake pedal too was replaced. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2000!
3. SUZANNE VANDERBILT
Suzanne Vanderbilt was one of six women: called GM’s “Damsels of Design”. General Motors hired six women for designing the interior of GM’s cars, in an effort to appeal to their growing female demographic in the early 1950s. Vanderbilt is credited with many inventions including the retractable seat belts and glove boxes: still in use today. She stayed with GM for the next 23 years and became their chief designer. She is responsible for three patents—an inflatable seat back, a safety switch for automotive panels, and a motorcycle helmet design.
4. HELENE ROTHER
Born and raised in Germany during World War II, She barely survived the war and after suffering great hardships, found a way to the United States. She started her career as a Jewelry and Hat Pin Designer before finding a job at GM in their interior design department. She became the first woman to work in a Design Team in Detroit! After being associated with GM for four years, she left to design her own studio. A year later, she merged her company with Nash Automobiles but again became independent when it was merged with Hudson.
She kept her status as an independent designer and later worked with Goodyear, B.F. Goodrich, U.S. Rubber, Stromberg-Carlson, and International Harvester.
5 & 6. MARY ANDERSON & CHARLOTTE BRIDGWOOD
Mary Anderson designed the first manual lever that operated a wiper from inside the car. Most useful on a rainy day or night.
Charlotte Bridgwood developed Mary Anderson’s manual windshield wiper up a notch and patented the first electronic windshield wipers in 1917. These electronic windshield wipers became standard pieces of equipment in personal cars soon, with Cadillac leading the pack. Sadly, she did not receive enough credit and financial benefits for her ingenuity.
7. BERTHA BENZ
Bertha Benz’s husband, Karl Benz, designed what is considered the first practical automobile. She strongly believed in Karl and his innovation and stood by him steadfastly. She invested her entire dowry into Benz’s company. In 1886, Karl Benz registered the first patent for the Motor Car. The public was very skeptical; and unwilling to purchase something motorized, that was called a car. Bertha Benz decided to, literally, drive the Motor Car concept. And then, without her husband's consent, Bertha Benz, with her two teenage sons by the side, Bertha drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim. This created awe and confidence in the new innovation… the Motor Car, like nothing else could. She also discovered, during her journey that brake pads would be most beneficial to help, brakes endure longer trips.
8. KATHARINE BLODGETT
How many of you know that cars don’t have a glare? Katharine Blodgett needs to be thanked for this discovery. Blodgett, a physicist, and chemist at General Electric discovered a way to create an “invisible” glass surface. These are known today as non-reflective windows. She was also the first woman awarded a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Cambridge.
9. JOAN NEWTON CUNEO
The first woman race car driver was Joan Newton Cuneo. Her racing skills made the men so nervous that Women were banned women from race car driving. Cuneo set many speed records for women and won three first places in shorter events. She won many races against Men too. She retired from racing after AAA banned women from the tracks.
So, these remarkable Women are what inspired many across the World to make the Motor Car what it is today!