Women’s role in the automotive industry is often overlooked by figures such as Henry Ford or Walter P. Chrysler. But many features in our cars that we enjoy today were invented by women.
Windshield wipers are often taken for granted today, but in 1903, inclement weather could mean very poor visibility out of your multi-pane windshield. That is when Mary Anderson, an entrepreneur from Alabama, envisioned a windshield wiper blade that could be operated from inside a trolly car instead of a driver having to get out and wipe the windshield with their hands.
Her design would later be used in 1922 by Cadillac and applied to their own motor-operated vehicles and quickly became the standard, making personal vehicles safer in inclement weather.
What do movies and your turn signal have in common? Florence Lawrence! Also known as “the first movie star,” she created the technology for the first turn signal that could be operated inside the car with a button. A mechanical signaling arm would turn to indicate which direction you intended to turn. Unfortunately, Florence never got a patent for her design. Thus, her design was used by others in the industry. However, her ingenuity still created much safer road users.
Glare on your windshield can mean obscured objects, less road awareness, and other countless road dangers. But thanks to Katherine Blodgett motor vehicles now have non-reflective glass making driving much safer.
Safer Roads Today
Next time you use your turn signal or turn on your windshield wipers be sure to think of the women who paved the way for a safer roadway.