Incredible Women in Automotive History
It should come as no surprise that women have been drastically underrepresented in the automotive industry throughout history. Despite society’s preconceived notion of gender roles, there are many trailblazing women who have worked to challenge the status quo. In honor of Women’s History Month, we at Landers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram would like to recognize some incredible women in the automotive industry who fought to break the mold and change the automotive industry for good.
Bertha Benz was the business partner and wife of automobile inventor Karl Benz. Although Bertha was not the inventor of the motorwagen, she was greatly invested in it’s creation and funded her husband’s business ventures before they were even married. In 1885, Karl Benz received the patent for the motorwagen, but he struggled to gain public interest. On the morning of August 5 1888, Bertha secretly drove one of the Benz Patent-Motorwagens with her two eldest sons to Pforzheim, Germany, 65 miles away. Over the course of their journey, Bertha made several repairs on the vehicle, using a garter to repair the ignition and a hat pin to clear a clogged fuel pipe. When the wooden brakes failed, she installed leather replacements and ths invented the first replacement brake pads. Bystanders were so intrigued by the strange motorwagen driving on the road, and as a result, Benz’s invention gained incredible public attention.
One of the most important safety tools on your vehicle is the windshield wiper blade. While this may seem like a no-brainer, but before Mary Anderson invented the manual windshield wiper in 1903, drivers had to lean out of their vehicles or pull over to wipe the windshield. While riding in a trolley car on a frosty day, Anderson envisioned a solution to the problem: a manual wiper blade that could be controlled inside the vehicle. She later hired a designer and received a patent for her model, and less than two decades later, wipers based on her model were standard equipment on most vehicles.
Charlotte Bridgwood was an inventor, Vaudeville performer and the president of Bridgwood Manufacturing Company. In 1917, Charlotte Bridgwood used Mary Anderson’s original windshield wiper design to create the first automated windshield cleaning device and received a patent. Although they were the first automatic, electronically-powered windshield wipers, her design used rollers rather than blades and her patent expired in 1920. Wipers based on her design later became standard automobile equipment, however, she received little notoriety for her contribution.
Daughter of Charlotte Bridgwood, Florence Lawrence was a silent film star and inventor of the first auto signaling arm, a predecessor to the turn signal, and the first mechanical brake signal. Florence never received a patent for her inventions and consequently received neither credit nor profit from them.
At Landers CDJR, we know that women belong in the automotive industry. We are inspired by the many women engineers, inventors and leaders around us, especially the women who work with us at Landers CDJR. Happy Women’s History Month!