International Womens Day


As millions of people around the round celebrated International Womens Day yesterday, the Voyager Team took a trip back in time to see how women have shaped the automotive world.

1897 – Actress Minnie Palmer is the first woman in England to drive and own her own car, a French-made Rougemont automobile

1900 – Pioneering driver Vera Hedges Butler is the first British woman to pass a driver’s examination in Paris (driving tests were not compulsory in Britain until 1935).

1903 – Alabama-born Mary Anderson invents and patents windscreen wipers. By 1916 they are a standard on most auto vehicles.

1915 – On 6 June Maida Vale station opens on the new Bakerloo line extension. It is the first Underground station to be staffed entirely by women.

1915 – On 1 November Mrs G. Duncan is the first woman bus conductor in London. She starts work with Thomas Tilling Company on route 37.

1919 – The Women’s Engineering Society (WES) is founded by Katharine and Rachel Parsons to promote the study and practice of engineering among women. Caroline Haslett, the first secretary, goes on to profoundly influence women in the industry.

1923 – Dorothée Aurélie Pullinger is the first female car designer. She designs the Galloway, a car specifically for women. In the same year, she becomes the first female member of the Institution of Automobile Engineers

1945 – Waterloo Bridge is completed. It is known as ‘The Ladies’ Bridge’ due to the fact that it was largely built by women.

1965 – The Labour MP Barbara Castle is appointed Minister of Transport. She is later responsible for the introduction of breathalysers, compulsory seat belts and national speed limits and as Minister of Employment instates the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

1968 – Sewing machinists at Ford factory in Dagenham strike due to their jobs being classified as unskilled. The strike stops production at all Ford UK plants. Their protests lead directly to the passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970.

1974 – Jill Viner is London Transport’s first female bus driver.

1978 – Karen Harrison becomes the first woman train driver’s assistant in Britain at the age of eighteen.

1978 – Hannah Dadds becomes the first female train operator on the Underground.

1983 – Helen Clifford becomes the first female bus mechanic.

1986 – An amendment to the Sexual Discrimination Act enables women to retire at the same age as men and lifts the legal restrictions which prevent women from working night shifts in factories.

1999 – Margaret Grieco is Britain’s first Professor of Transport and Society and becomes actively involved in developing gendered approaches to transport in both the developing and developed world.

2013 – Shelia Holden elected first female president of CIHT (Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation).