Inspiring women who have changed the automotive game
Historically, we've seen and thought of the automotive industry as a male dominated arena. We know that many incredible and innovative achievements have come out of this space, impacting various other areas of life.
Amongst all of this, it’s important to keep in mind that all of these could not have been as significantly successful without the brilliant minds of various women who, instead of taking ‘No’ for an answer, took charge.
Here at CarFling, we'd like to honour a few of the many the women who contributed to the boom of the automotive era as well as those who are currently making waves in such an exciting and progressive industry.
Here are our five favourite women that have changed the game for us all.
1. Bertha Benz
We're quite certain that the surname rings a bell… but Bertha Benz was much more than just "the wife of Mercedes Founder Carl Benz.
This daring woman was one of the main reasons the famous car manufacturing company so seamlessly and successfully got introduced into the market. Making her a decisive force behind the modern motor car and trajectory of the automotive industry in general.
Not only did she invest a great sum of her own money into this project, she also took to the tar (or gravel) and became the first person to take a Mercedez on an official road trip.The thought of driving a newly built invention on such treacherous roads was a daunting thought for most. Many members of the public were skeptical around the power of this automobile, but not the brave Bertha Benz.
In August 1888, Bertha completed her trip across the country's rocky roads with her two children in tow - all to prove (and advertise) the success of her husband's invention.
She so rightly earned the title of German automotive pioneer and inventor.What a woman to have by your side!
2. Clärenore Stinnes
Clärenore Stinnes, born in 1929, is best know as the first European woman to circumnavigate the world by car.
She was a German race-car driver whose need for speed ignited when she was just 15 years old - driving laps around her father’s factory. Getting her driver’s license at 18, by the time she turned 24, Stinnes was considered to be the most successful race-car drivers in Europe.
Being inspired by Charles Lindberghs solo crossing of the Atlantic just two years before her birth, Stinnes made it her mission to drive around the world. The journey took her just over 25 months to complete, in a 34.5hp Adler Standard 6. and the the German automotive industry came in with 100,000 Reichsmarks as her main sponsor. Her trip was long but it sure wasn’t a lonely one. The young lady was accompanied by:
🎥 A cameraman
👨🏻🔧 Two mechanics
🚛 An escort truck
🐶 Her trusty dog, Lord
Despite the dangerous and unknown territories this trip was bound to encounter, Stinnes determination to earn this title drove her engine forward and placed her name into the history books forever.
3. Mary Barra
All eyes were on Mary Barra as she became the first woman to obtain the position of CEO at General Motors. She has held this top title since 2014 and has truly made her mark in many ways.
At the young age of 18, she started putting her roots down at General Motors as a plant engineer. Her hard work and obvious passion for the industry won her a scholarship from GM to complete an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business and a spot on one of the oldest engineering honours societies - Tau Beta Pi.
Barra spearheads the design, engineering and quality of GM vehicle launches around the world and proudly states that her success as a leader is in part thanks to her 3 guiding principles:
- Solve the problem
- Be transparent
- Do what ever it takes to support the customer
Since being appointed as CEO, General Motors raised brows around the world as they became one of two global companies that actively ensured no gender pay gap. Apart from this, they also achieved the no.1 status on the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality.
Barra has also made the cut for TIME’s '100 Most Influential People in the World' in 2014 and was positioned 1st in the Fortune’s 'Most Powerful Women' of 2015.
A true woman of strength who has used her leadership skills to change the way of the workplace - now a better, fairer playing ground.
4. Ruby Akhtar
After graduating from university in 2011, Ruby Akhtar (now 30) was determined to be involved in problem-solving discussions and innovative initiatives that would inspire the youth.
Before completing a master's in Engineering Management, Ruby worked a desk job at a small manufacturing company as an office assistant. But she knew she wanted more. Once she had her masters in the bag, she immersed herself more fully into automotive industry and particularly in projects that focused on the production of next-generation low-carbon technology.
One of the initiatives she leads aims to grow and strengthen the minds of young people in this industry - with discussions and activities beginning with primary school children. She has made it her mission to bring forth a more diverse group of role model representation into the automotive industry, ensuring more young people can be effectively inspired.
She mentioned in an interview with Refinery29 that a big moment for her in her career was being part of a team leading STEM activities in a diverse inner-city primary school.
”I was proud to represent the minority – a Bangladeshi woman working in engineering”
I worked with the school over a six-week period each year for several years and carried out surveys before and after the project to gauge its impact. I was amazed by how I’d changed the children’s perceptions of jobs in engineering.
She acknowledges how her career goals have changed over the years; moving away from wanting recognition for progress, to wanting to make a difference and have a positive impact in the wider world.
Ruby Akhtar - a bright young woman, implementing outstanding initiatives and influencing future generations in so many incredible ways!
5. Jordan Brompton
Jordan Brampton, 32 is our favourite modern-day woman, striving for an improved and more sustainable future for females in the automotive space.
Beginning her career in the cycling import business, Jordan had a burning desire to create greater opportunities for women like herself. She wanted to find a way to combine her passion for sustainability with her interest in electric vehicles (EV). This undeniable drive quickly gave birth to Myenergi - a company that designs and manufactures renewable products. It's well known for ideating and building the world’s first eco-smart electric vehicle charging device.
The company was started on nothing apart from good ideas and serious passion for change. Brampton claims that her ‘aha moment’ was when her team got the very first prototype of their zappi EV charger working on the workbench. It was then that she realised that it was possible to charge an electric car directly from solar panels.
“I knew this would be the start of something huge and that our tech could help to redefine the future of the industry.”
It has become quite evident that women have a big interest in electric cars. In face, they seem to be transitioning faster to alternative fuels than men. Jordan wants to capitalise on this and aims to be a figurehead for the industry. To act as a role model and show what’s achievable if you put your mind to it.
It's evident that women are a strong and steady driving force behind the success of numerous automotive strides, past, present and future.
From incredible engineering and driving the road less travelled (literally), to taking up global leadership positions and changing the name of our space forever; we're so inspired by these women and are proud to operate in a space that they've helped shift and shape.
To our these five incredible women and to all those reading this article, we acknowledge you and we are thankful that you helped pave the way of such an influential industry.