Business of Men

4 Women who shook the foundations of automotive business

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Historically, women have not generally gravitated towards the automotive industry; racing, repairing, building and maintaining vehicles tends to be more of a male thing. Of course, this doesn’t mean women were excluded from joining the fraternity; it’s just that it wasn’t always very appealing.

Times have changed – decidedly. Today, you can find women in all sorts of automotive business subfields; from automotive prototyping from Weiss-Aug, to putting the pieces together on the manufacturing floor. In the following article, we’ll provide you with a little insight into a handful of women who were responsible for widening the open doorway to this industry.

1. Danica Patrick

We’ll start with the most modern of the female pioneers — racecar driver Danica Patrick. For good reason, she’s instantly recognizable by both fans and casual observers of the testosterone-fueled sport. Her talent catapulted her into the spotlight, such that web domain giant, GoDaddy signed her to what appears to be a lifetime deal.

As for accomplishments, Danica took the Rookie of the Year trophies in both the IndyCar Series and 2005 Indianapolis 500 seasons. Her journey from a GoKart racer at the age of 10, to a renowned competitive racer on the world stage has inspired countless girls – and, perhaps, boys.

2. Michelle Christensen

When it comes to designing cars, you won’t find many female automotive artists even today. This is why you might mistake Michelle Christensen for a buyer upon first sight. In truth, she is one of the leading car designers in the world. Her award-winning Honda Acura NSX has drawn rave reviews for the sense of sleek power it conveys – a sort of futuristic muscle car coveted by men and women alike.

Her recent design landed her a job as the lead project designer of a supercar – the first for a female. Her ambition started in her father’s garage, where he worked on muscle cars and tutored her.

3. Florence Lawrence

You probably didn’t realize that cars did not always have brake lights and other safety features. Well, Florence Lawrence was the pioneer of these essential vehicular elements; in the late 1800s, this movie star took up the crusade to help limit on-the-road traffic accidents. In fact, she took it one step further than brake lights and pioneered the use of signal lights, too, to help the driver behind a car know when the car in front was about to turn. Her invention was mechanical back then, of course; in the present, it’s been turned into an electronic turn signal.

Florence Lawrence came to a tragic end via suicide after leaving the public eye in the early 1900s due to a debilitating accident. She shouldn’t be forgotten, however, for her crucial contributions to automotive safety.

4. Mary Barra

When it comes to female pioneers in the automotive industry, few names ring as clearly as Mary T Barra. As the Chief Executive Officer of automotive giant General Motor, she’s pioneered a path as quite possibly the most powerful woman in the car industry. She’s on the Board of Trustees of several organizations, wielding her knowledge and power as a formidable business-person for charitable causes.

General Motors has had some serious issues lately with subpar performance. Mary is looking to amend the recent misfires by changing the company culture and restoring General Motors to greatness. This could mean a more efficiently-run office, using programs such as Clockspot: online time clock & employee timesheet software, using the advantages of modern technology and hiring lawyers to improve the accountability of engineers on the design floor.

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