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The march of progress requires the tireless efforts of the engineers, inventors, and visionaries who make the cars we take for granted possible. Moreover, many pioneering women like Mary Anderson, Florence Lawrence, and Emily Post have profoundly impacted the automotive industry. Check out seven women who smashed obstacles, engineered wonder, and shaped the industry. 

These seven pioneering women changed the automotive landscape we take for granted

From windshield wipers to brake indicators, these paradigm-shifting women are responsible for many features that make modern cars possible and safe

  • Mary Anderson
  • Florence Lawrence
  • Emily Post
  • Margaret Wilcox
  • Mimi Vandermolen
  • Dorothee Pullinger
  • Hedy Lamarr

How did Mary Anderson become famous?

Mary Anderson’s contributions to the modern automobile are nothing short of essential; she designed the windshield wiper. Specifically, Anderson noticed a need for a device to clear water and obstructions from windshields in the early 1900s and created a hand-operated windshield wiper system, according to Hagerty

Mary Anderson, a pioneering woman in the auto industry, poses for a picture.
Mary Anderson | Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

What did Florence Lawrence give to the automotive industry as a pioneering woman?

Florence Lawrence was an avid automobile enthusiast, describing her own car as “almost human,” per AAA. Like many of us enthusiasts, Lawrence customized her vehicle. However, instead of opting for an aftermarket exhaust system, she designed turn signals and a brake indicator with a literal stop sign. 

A cropped picture of Florence Lawrence, an actress and inventor.
Florence Lawrence | Universal History Archive via UIG via Getty images

Emily Post was a writer, influencer, and one of the many pioneering women who shaped automotive culture

Better known for her book Etiquette and prohibition activism, Emily Post’s lifetime contributions included some of the first automotive journalism. Moreover, Post wrote a book titled Motor Manners: The Bluebooklet of Traffic Etiquette, wherein she outlined the dos and don’ts of driving.  

Emily Post, one of the pioneering women of the auto industry, sports a fancy hat.
Emily Post | PhotoQuest via Getty Images

What did Margaret Wilcox invent?

Margaret Wilcox designed the first cabin heating system that uses waste heat from internal combustion engines (ICE). Today, a heater is standard equipment in nearly every vehicle with a closed interior, and Wilcox’s designs paved the way. 

Mimi Vandermolen made her mark on the industry as a woman pioneer and accomplished designer

A prolific designer at Ford, Mimi Vandermolen penned many designs for the Blue Oval, including significant portions of the Ford Taurus. Moreover, Vandermolen’s noteworthy contributions to the modern vehicle include work on the digital gauge cluster, climate control dials, and user-friendly seats. 

Dorothee Pullinger’s skill as an engineer was almost as captivating as her foray into racing

Scottish engineer and legacy designer Dorothee Pullinger was an automotive cultural force. She was instrumental in designing the Galloway Car, among other projects. Additionally, Pullinger was a talented racing driver, winning the 1924 Six Day Car Trials in Scotland. 

Moreover, Pullinger advocated for other women and was a founding member of the Women’s Engineering Society. 

Was Hedy Lamarr a genius?

Hedy Lamarr was more than an accomplished actor; she was a genius pioneer with an eye for innovation and science. She created the concept of frequency-hopping signals to aid the war effort for the Allies in WWII. While that might not seem directly impactful for cars, frequency-hopping was instrumental in creating GPS technology, a feature that motorists use daily.

Hedy Lamarr poses for a glamour shot.
Hedy Lamarr | Silver Screen Collection via Getty Images

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