Today is International Women’s Day and, to celebrate, our experts here at Caliber are taking a road trip through history to tell the stories of five women who have impacted the auto world. From auto inventors to NASCAR racers and everything in between, these ladies have transformed the industry by breaking down the conventional barriers of their times.
When Bertha’s husband, Carl Benz, registered a patent for the first “Benz & Co.” Motor Car, sales were virtually non-existent. Bertha, a fellow automotive pioneer and mother of five, sought to prove to the country what this ride could do by taking it on a trip across the country, the first long-distance trip in an automobile. Using a garter, a hat-pin, and ligroin stocks of pharmacies along the route, Bertha successfully achieved her trip, despite low fuel, clogged valves and faulty wiring, and received a wave of publicity that would jumpstart her family’s business, and the automobile industry as a whole.
Known as the “First Movie Star,” Lawrence gained fame as the first actor to be credited by name in a motion picture. Aside from her cinema stardom, Lawrence also made two major contributions to the auto industry: turn signals and brake lights. In 1914, she invented an “auto signaling arm” that raised or lowered a flag on a car’s rear bumper with the push of an electrical button. She also developed a mechanical signal that flipped a stop sign from the back bumper whenever a driver hit the brakes. As crude as these modifications were by today’s standards, they would soon become invaluable assets on the road for millions of cars to come.
Dorothée Pullinger, an accomplished automobile engineer, racing car driver and founding member of the Women’s Engineering Society, was the first of many to cater her automobile designs specifically for women. Pullinger’s work inspired women to pursue careers in the male-dominated automotive industry, and the engineering field as a whole. After World War 1, she served as the director and manager of Galloway Motors, where she designed the car that would become a crowning moment in her incredible legacy, the Galloway vehicle.
Denise McCluggage has been called “Lady Leadfoot,” the “Fastest Woman on Four Wheels” and the “First Lady of Racing” – all for good reason. McCluggage was the very first woman to win a feature sportscar race in 1959 at Thompson Raceway, in her Porsche RS and polka dotted helmet. As the author of the weekly column, “Drive, She Said,” Denise was also the first journalist to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Her legacy, both on paper and on the pavement, helped pioneer women’s equality in numerous ways across the country.
Mary Barra, Chairwoman and CEO of General Motors, is GM's first female CEO, and the first woman to ever lead any major automaker. As she drives the industry forward in the realms of safety, environmental conservation and cutting costs, she also leads the charge for women in her active roles on the Board of Directors of the Walt Disney Company, the Stanford University Board of Trustees and the Detroit Economic Club. Ranked #1 on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list in 2016, Barra has broken down barriers in the automotive and corporate worlds, and has inspired women everywhere to drive innovation forward.
At Caliber Collision, we are all about moving forward by leading the charge in the collision repair industry on all fronts. We’re thankful every day for our female teammates, but want to give a special shout-out on this day to the women who helped pave the way for equality in the automobile industry as a whole. Because of their commitment to a higher purpose, our own experts are better equipped for success when it comes to Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life.®