Historically, many leaps have been made and glass ceilings shattered by trailblazing women across the globe. From much needed equal rights policies to changing people’s perceptions of women’s capabilities, we’ve come a long way from the days when women weren’t allowed to own property, let alone work. However, women continue to deal with a fair share of gender-based discrimination, especially in male-dominated industries.
One of the industries that grossly underrepresents women is the automotive industry, highly fueled by the misconceptions of women and driving. In a study on the automobile and gender by Martin Wachs, an engineering and planning professor at UCLA, he points out how “the stereotype of the woman driver is one of the most persistent myths of American culture… systematically reinforcing the gender roles that pervade the larger society.”
Even though Wachs’ study was based on a historical perspective, these stereotypes continue to affect women’s relationship with cars and the auto industry. In 2018, only 16 women (eight percent) held executive positions across the globe in automotive Fortune 500 companies. And in the United States, although they dominate clerical work, only about 18 percent obtain mid-level and executive positions.
Although these numbers can be discouraging, there have been plenty of tenacious women in history and today that have not only broken barriers, but opened doors for other women to enter these types of industries.
A History: Women in the Automotive Industry
To commemorate the struggles, fights and successes of some of these women, we created a historical timeline with some of the top boss ladies and their major contributions to the automotive industry. From incredible mathematicians to engineers and fearless racecar drivers, their lives and stories are nothing short of inspiring.
Check out the visual below to learn more about these women’s fantastic contributions to the automotive industry and empowering takeaways from their stories.
Whether you’re currently in a male-dominated work environment or dream of entering the automotive industry as these female leaders did, use their lives and accomplishments to feel empowered. If you’re simply an adventure seeker who loves to travel, grab life by the steering wheel and rent a car for your next epic road trip.
Transportation | Wheels for Wishes | Mercedes-Benz | Inventionland | Lemelson | Geni | Historic Vehicle | Hedy Lamarr | Black Doctor | BBC | MotorWeek | Danica Patrick | Autowise | Parade | Forbes | General Motors