5 Women that Changed the Automotive Industry!
In honor of Women's History Month, I decided to explore women and the automotive industry. For many years, women have been stuck behind outdated stereotypes, criticizing how we drive and our lack of contributions to the automotive industry. With that said, let's dive in and meet five women who changed the automotive world!
In the year 1888, a woman named Bertha Benz guided a famous luxury car company. Can you guess what it is? Yup, you guessed it, Mercedes Benz! It started with a quest to prove to her husband, Karl Benz, that his invention was nothing short of financial success. Bertha was the first woman to drive a significant distance, a total of 65 miles, which led to substantial changes and improvements, like brake pads and gear shifts, that would revolutionize the cars we know today. This woman showed heart and believed in her husband and what they created together. With determination, she did a brave thing and changed the world. To me, that is a woman worth celebrating.
Heading into 1909, our next woman is a Jersey girl to the core, Alice Huyler Ramsey. Born in Hackensack, New Jersey, Alice would later become a woman of many firsts. On June 9, 1909, Alice began a 3,600-mile journey from Manhatten, NY, to San Franciso, CA. She arrived on August 7, about three weeks later than they planned. During her trek, Alice changed 11 tires, cleaned the spark plugs, and repaired a broken brake pedal. At only 22 years old, this incredible road-trip titled her the first woman to drive cross country. This trip, done about 30 times during her life, proved to women everywhere that there are no boundaries in the auto industry. Especially boundaries of sex. She became the president of New York's Women's Motoring Club and she attained the title "Woman Motorist of the Century" by the American Automobile Association. Later, in October of 2000, Alice was the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. You go, Alice!
Do you enjoy Bluetooth and wifi connectivity? Did you know that we get to enjoy these luxuries because of the curiosities of a bright young woman? Fast forward to 1941, and meet "The Most Beautiful Woman in Film." Hedy Lamar was one of the most popular actresses of her time due to her beauty and acting skills. She was also brilliant, which made her famous in a whole new way, aside from her acting career. At a dinner party, Hedy met a composer by the name of George Antheil. They created a device that would later become the gateway for cellular technology. They called it the "Secret Communication System." The design was intended to help the military during WWII and solve the problem of activating radio-controlled missiles without being detected. The device solved this by changing radio frequencies simultaneously. Doing this would stop enemies from Intersecting them and blocking the signals. Despite their hard work, they wouldn't get recognition for this invention until about 1957. In fact, it wasn't until 2014 that the National Inventors Hall of Fame inducted the pair. This woman deserved more credit than she received in her time, but she will forever be a woman to remember. So, to whoever said you can't have beauty and brains, well, read it and weep!
Let's take a giant 64-year drive into 2005 and meet a modern woman named Michelle Christensen. She learned the art of cars from her father, who loved hotrods and muscle cars. Meanwhile, she developed an interest in drawing, fine art, and later, car design. In 2005, Acura hired Michelle. She became the Lead Designer at Honda R&D only five years later, making her Acura's first female lead designer. Her first project as Lead Designer was the 2016 Honda NSX, which, as you can see, is beautiful. Michelle's talent exposed a lot of broken stereotypes in the industry. Especially surrounding women and their contributions to the automotive world. Her design caused Michelle to receive the "Woman on Top" Award from Marie Claire Magazine to top it all off. Congrats Michelle!
Buckle up, everyone. We are speeding straight to the finish with this one! Allow me to introduce Danica Sue Patrick, a woman with many things to celebrate. Starting from the beginning, Danica began karting at a very young age of 10 years old. Even then, gaining a lot of success. In 2005 Danica took the named Rookie of the Year for both the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series. She later became the first & only female to win the 2008 Indy Japan 300. Moving on in her career, in 2010, Danica started driving stock cars in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In 2013, she became the first woman to win a Cup Series pole position by setting the fastest lap in the Daytona 500. Danica continued on to beat the record for most top-ten finishes by a woman in the Sprint Cup Series in 2015. Danica completed the 2018 Daytona & Indianapolis 500 before retiring her well-accomplished career. Talk about girl power!
These five amazing women are only a fraction of women making incredible strides all over the world. They set the example to work hard and exceed boundaries every day and never give up on your dreams. What women have inspired you lately? Let me know in the comments below!