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Great women of the motors industry

Wednesday 5 February 2014, by
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We’ve been chatting with a friend at MyCarGossip, and they’ve opened our eyes to a few unsung female heroes of the male-dominated motors industry.

Starting with Mary Anderson and Florence Lawrence, two of the most famous female inventors to contribute to the modern car.

On a snowy day in 1903, Mary Anderson was being driven around New York on a business trip, and was having a hard time seeing the New York sights because of the bad weather. Mary noticed that the driver had to reach through his window every few minutes to wipe the snow off his windscreen with his hand. Sometimes he even had to stick his head out of his window to see where he was going! At this point that an idea was born, and Mary Anderson set out to solve a very common problem. Back home in Alabama, Anderson envisioned a device with a long rubber blade placed on the windscreen that would be controllable from inside the car; the windscreen wiper, as we know and love it these days. Anderson was able to get a 17-year patent on her creation, yet amazingly the windscreen wiper didn’t become standard on most vehicles until after her patent had expired.

Florence Lawrence was a very successful silent film star and was able to buy her own car in the early 20th century. She helped to invent the humble indicator in 1914, designing an auto-signalling arm that was attached to the back of the car, with a button inside that would activate the arm. Lawrence then created the brake signal to let people know that she was slowing down or coming to a stop. As a driver pressed the brakes, a “stop” sign filled up from the back bumper to warn other drivers. Both amazing inventions are now standard car requirements, but because she didn’t patent her creations poor Florence never got any recognition for them.

These days, the team at MyCarGossip we are great supporters of Danica Patrick, an American racing driver and Katherine Legge, a British racing driver. Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of American racing and is the only woman to have a victory in an IndyCar Series race. She also finished third in the world-famous Indianapolis 500 in 2009 – the highest finish ever by a woman.

Legge on the other hand, was the first woman to win a Toyota Atlantic Championship race in 2005 and she was the first woman to compete full time in the Champ Car World Series in 2006. Following in the slipstream of their innovative predecessors, these ladies show that women can make a difference in the world of Motors!

Do you know any other women involved in the motoring industry who you think are inspirational? Tweet the team @mycargossip or @gumtree with your suggestions.


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