Adelina Torres Arreola is the Communications and Policy Director for the New Mexico Independent Auto Dealers Association.
While men appear to dominate the automotive industry, women have historically played an important role that is often overlooked. To honor Women’s History Month, here are some chronological fun facts of incredible fearless boss ladies who were/are mathematicians, engineers and race car drivers:
1888: Bertha Benz—Pioneered the creation and invention of Mercedes Benz YES! The Luxury Car! Her business partner was her husband Karl Benz. Improvements to brake pads and gear shifts were done because of her.
1893: Margaret A. Wilcox—One of the first female mechanical engineers. Invented the car heater. This invention has been the base for modern heating systems.
1903: Mary Anderson—Have you ever wondered who created the windshield wiper? It was Mary; however, her idea failed to sell because it was deemed “unsafe.” I guess we beg to differ now.
1903: Rachel “Mommy” Krouse—First woman to own and operate a dealership, Krouse Motor Car Company.
1909: Alice Huyler Ramsey—The first to drive coast to coast, the first woman to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame—and she founded the first Women’s Motoring Club! So, can we admit now that good driving has nothing to do with sex?
1914: Florence Lawrence—Both an actress and inventor, she created the turn signal and brake stop lights—yet was never given credit for these inventions.
1942: Hedy Lamarr—Enjoy the radio in your car? You can thank her for inventing the signaling device intended for WWII, thus creating a steppingstone for cellular technology.
1956: Dr. Gladys West—Brilliant mathematician hired by the U.S. Naval Weapons lab in charge of programming IBM, which led to the base for GPS that we now use mobile.
2005: Michelle Christensen—First female exterior designer to lead a design team hired by Honda/Acura for their exotic, limited production vehicles.
2008: Danica Sue Patrick—First and only woman to win an Indy race and to receive a Cup Series in NASCAR pole. How’s that for setting records?
2014: Mary T. Barra—First female CEO to head all major global automotive organizations for GM Motors. How would you like your glass ceiling? Shattered you say?
*Wheels is a special advertising section in The Paper. proudly supported by the New Mexico Independent Auto Dealers Association.