Why You Should Know These Women’s Names
Since today is “International Women’s Day” and the month of March is “Women’s History Month,” we wanted to take some time to acknowledge some of the first women that made very important changes to the auto industry. Not only did these women break boundaries during their time, but their contributions are still extremely important today.
Charlotte Bridgwood + Mary Anderson
Both of these ladies are responsible for the windshield wipers on your car. While Mary Anderson was the original creator of windshield wipers in 1903, they were only manual — but still a big step in the right direction. Then in 1913, a lady named, Charlotte Bridgwood patented automatic windshield wipers called the, “Electric Storm Windshield Wiper.” Ten years later, windshield wipers became a standard feature on most American cars.
While Florence is best known as a very popular actress (seen in over 250 films) in the early 1900s. Florence was also the daughter of Charlotte Bridgwood, mentioned above. Florence was also a car enthusiast who made an important contribution to automobiles. As a well to do actress, Florence was one of the few able to afford a car in their early stages.
After spending some time behind the wheel, Lawrence noticed that drivers were getting in accidents because they weren’t able to anticipate if the driver in front of them would be slowing down, turning or braking. She designed the first “auto signaling arm,” which was a mechanical signal for turning and braking. As the driver pushed a button, a sign on the rear bumper raised up alerting of a direction change. In the case of the driver applying the brakes, a sign saying “stop” would appear. She did not patent these inventions, however, and as a result she never received credit for–or profit from–either one.
Without Denise McCluggage, who knows how long it would have been before women like Danica Patrick entered the world of car racing. Denise began driving and racing cars in the 1950s and quickly became successful at the sport. Throughout her driving career, McCluggage drove everything from high-powered muscle cars to some of the most elite European luxury cars. In addition to being one of the first female pioneers in the auto industry, McCluggage was also known as being a pioneer as a female journalist that covered sports and cars rather than just fashion.
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