Fast forward many decades from Bertha Benz, and you will still find women altering the landscape of design and function. Mimi Vandermolen was a part of the Ford design studio in the early 1970s but was laid off during the oil crisis. She returned to the Blue Oval in 1977 and was instrumental in creating the interior of the then-new Ford Taurus.
Her contributions are litany of things we now take for granted: ergonomic seats, rotary dials for climate control within easy reach of the driver, and a digital display that functions as the instrument cluster.
No matter what you drive today, there are aspects of its interior that can be traced to the Taurus, and to Vandermolen.
The average car is comprised of 30,000 parts, but none are as important as the tires. In 1964, Kwolek was working in the DuPont textile lab searching for a way to reinforce radial tires. The result of her manipulation of strands of carbon-based molecules to make larger molecules (polymers) was Kevlar, which is now a staple of performance tires to reinforce the bead and circumference. Kevlar has also had a lasting impact outside the automotive world, in the construction of bulletproof vests.
This is just a selection of the contributions and innovations that women have brought to the automotive world. Our cars would not be the objects we love and enjoy today without these women, and for that we thank them.