Today marks International Women’s Day, where we celebrate women’s achievements across the globe while raising awareness of women’s equality. If you’d like to find out more, you can check out the International Women’s Day information page here.
Women throughout history have shaped and continue to shape the motoring world that we live in, innovating both through practical inventions and business strategies. Let’s take a look at a few of the women who have made a huge impact on the motoring industry.
You may not have heard of Mary Anderson, but she invented something we use without a second thought today. Back in 1903, she was granted a patent for a ground-breaking invention – the windscreen wiper. Initially operated via a level located within the car and linked to a rubber wiper on the outside of the vehicle, Anderson’s invention was transformative – particularly in terms of safety.
Sadly Anderson’s patent expired without any real product success, but it was her invention and ability to see a resolution for an issue experienced by thousands that shone through.
Margaret Calvert, OBE
Margaret Calvert had an impact on driving that we all take for granted each time we get behind the wheel. Along with her colleague Jock Kinneir, Calvert – who is also a graphic designer and typographer – designed some of the UK’s most famous road signs while also developing a new type of font which was easier to read when passing at speed.
— Design Museum (@DesignMuseum) June 23, 2015
These easy-to-read signs changed the game for motorists in the UK and are still in use across the country today. Calvert’s clear font design is also used on the gov.uk website.
Susie Wolff is a former professional racing driver who progressed through karting and Formula Three before moving to DTM racing in Germany for Mercedes-Benz. However, things took a big move forward when she signed to Williams in Formula One in 2021 and was the first woman to take part in a Formula One weekend in 22 years when she raced at Silverstone in 2014.
Today, she works as Team Principal for the Venturi Racing team in Formula E – a cutting-edge racing series made up of battery-powered cars.
Linda Jackson’s progression through the motoring industry is impressive, to say the least. She started out as an accounting clerk at Jaguar, before working at MG Rover Group. Here, she took night classes at the University of Warwick to achieve her executive MBA.
After leaving Rover, Jackson became finance director of Rover France and in 2005, went on to become finance director of Citroen. Between 2010 and 2014 she worked as the managing director for Citroen UK, before moving to become CEO of Citroen in 2014 – making her the first English woman to run a major car company.
Today, the hugely influential Jackson is CEO of Peugeot, where she is overseeing a huge transformation for the brand as it moves upmarket and focuses on the development of EV powertrains.
Jess Hawkins has one of the coolest jobs in the business – stunt driver. It’s been built on years of experience behind the wheel, competing in the MSA Formula Championship and both the Volkswagen Racing Cup series and the Mini Challenge.
She recently made her debut in the British Touring Car Championship, too, and has been filmed putting the Land Rover Defender through its paces in the latest adverts for the upcoming James Bond movie No Time To Die.