Unsung Female heroes of Motoring Industry

Unsung Female Heroes of Auto Industry 18
Feb 14

  • Behind every successful man is a woman
  • Mary Anderson invented Windshield Wipers
  • Florence Lawrence invented auto-signalling arm and brake signal

You must have read this many times; ‘behind every successful man is a woman’; this is also true when it comes to cars as some of the major components of any car today were invented by women. Cars are usually seen as something macho but it is amazing to know that some of the most important aspects of cars today, came into the world because of two women. Do you know who invented windshield wipers? Do you know who came up with the first turn indicator as well as the full-stop signal activated by applying the footbrake? In this series of unsung heroes in motoring industry, we will get to know the two women from the early 20th Century who helped in shaping up modern cars.

Let’s take you back to a snowy day in 1903; Mary Anderson is on a tour of New York. She is having a hard time seeing the New York sights because of bad weather. Mary notices that the driver has to reach through his window every few minutes to wipe the snow off his windscreen with his hand. Sometimes he even sticks his head out of his window to see where he is going! At this point, she thinks of an idea to solve a common problem and back home in Alabama, Anderson comes up with a device with a long rubber blade placed on the windscreen that can be controlled from inside the car; and the windscreen viper was born. This component has become one of the most important parts of modern cars. Hats off to Mary Anderson!

The second unsung heroine in our series of females who have helped in shaping the car of today is, Florence Lawrence. She was a very successful 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 lighted up from the back bumper to warn other drivers.

These two females are not the only unsung heroes of the motoring industry as there are lots of women who helped in making what the car industry is these days. We will bring you two more from ‘The Forgotten Ladies’ series next week.