Imagine a Ford Explorer for men, by men.
What would it look like?
Well, it wouldn’t have windshield wipers, a heater, turn signals or GPS.
And forget about that rearview mirror.
Ford Motor Company released this very humorous advertisement, which played on machismo, for International Women’s Day, and highlighted women’s contributions to the auto industry.
Women have been a big part of the auto industry for a long time. The deployment of men during World War II left a massive labor shortage, which resulted in 6 million women taking jobs in factories.
According to Automobile in American Life and Society, a project by University of Michigan-Dearborn, “the number of female workers jumped from 28,300 in October 1941 to 203,300 in November 1943.” By 1945, women made up 28% of the International Union of United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, which had a total of one million members at the time.
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Here are the 5 women Ford Motor Company is honoring:
Popularly known as an actress on the big screen for movies like “White Cargo” and “Samson and Delilah,” she pioneered a secret communication system that guided torpedoes to their target, according to National Women’s History Museum. The invention today is used in cellular technology, Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth.
Also an actress, Lawrence had appeared in more than 300 movies and was known as one of the first movie stars. She loved cars and was frustrated with not knowing when drivers in front of her would stop, so she created a turn indicator, which were mechanical flaps that extended from the sides of the vehicle, and a brake indicator, which was a flap on the back that read “STOP” when pressing the brake pedal, according to The Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum. Lawrence is known as the pioneer of brake and turn signals.
Levitt is known as one of Britain’s earliest race car drivers and a journalist. According to East End Women’s Museum, Levitt wrote in her book, “The Woman and the Car: A Chatty Little Handbook For Women Who Want To Motor,” that women carry a hand mirror with them, to see who is coming from behind, making it one of the first-known uses of a rearview mirror.
Pullinger was an automotive engineer, businesswoman and founding members of Women’s Engineering Society in the United Kingdom. Her innovation was developing a car for women, known as The Galloway 10/20. According to Britain by Car, she also moved the gear lever to between the driver and passenger, raised the driver’s seat, lowered the dashboard, reduced steering wheel’s size, improved leg room and storage capacity, and made The Galloway one of the first vehicles to add a rear view mirror.
Dr. Gladys West
As a mathematician and computer programmer, West is known for pioneering the modern-day GPS. According to The National Center for Women & Information Technology, West was one of four Black employees working at The Naval Proving Ground in 1956 and was admired for her mathematical and programming skills. Her work on satellite geodesy and satellite measurements contributed to the accuracy of GPS, which impacts phones and is widely used in automobiles.