Women are transforming the auto industry. From the front office to the service department, youll find women in key positions at Maple Hill Auto and other automotive businesses in Michigan and nationwide.


Since the industry’s earliest days, women have made key contributions to engineering, design, and innovation. More recently, women are joining the car business in force across management, sales, service, parts, and business operations.


At Maple Hill Auto, we lead by example. We are proud to say that 43% of our leadership is female, including our executive director Randi DeSantis and our Parts Director, Kim Stone. We also have female service writers, sales professionals, parts associates, customer service representatives, and highly skilled technicians. As one of our employees said in a video introducing our female employees, The future is female!” 


We offer family-friendly benefits including immediate health insurance, 401k with a company match, the ability to set your wage in parts and service, and consistent hours in our parts, office, and customer service departments. 


You may not know just how much women have changed the auto industry. Since the late 1800s, women have made significant contributions and inspired generations of women to join the auto and mobility industries. 


From inventors to top executives, in honor of Womens History Month, here are 6 female auto industry pioneers:


Mimi Vandermolen

When Vandermolen joined Ford Motor Company in 1970, she was one of just a handful of female designers. Her first position was on a team redesigning the interior and exterior of the iconic Ford Mustang. After that success, Vandermolen served as head designer for the first Ford Taurus sedan and she pioneered a central ergonomic dashboard. When the Taurus debuted in 1986, it was an instant sensation, accounting for 25% of Fords sales. Riding that success, in 1987, Vandermolen was promoted to Design Executive for small cars.


Mary Barra

As the first female CEO for a major auto manufacturer, Barra is an industry trailblazer. A 38-year GM veteran, she became CEO in 2014 and Chair in 2016, and now oversees 180,000 global employees. Under her direction, in 2021, the company sold 6.29 million cars worldwide and 2.2 million in the US. 


Florence Lawrence

Best known as a silent film star, Lawrence was also an inventor and an automotive enthusiast. Seeking to make driving safer, she designed the first system for alerting drivers when a car was going to turn or stop. Lawrences system used flags attached to the side and rear of the car. When the driver pulled a lever, the indicator flag popped out. Auto innovation ran in the family: her mother, Lotta Lawrence, created an early version of the windshield wiper. 


Mary Anderson and Charlotte Bridgewood

The next time you turn on your windshield wipers, you can thank Anderson. While visiting New York City during a snowstorm, Anderson noticed trolley drivers had to manually wipe the front windows or hang their heads out the side. It prompted her to design a rubber-coated, weighted lever that would continuously wipe away snow and rain. In 1903, patented her invention and, within two decades, windshield wipers became a standard feature on new vehicles. 


A few years after Andersons innovation, Bridgewood added her improvements, creating the first electrically powered, automatic wiper. Her design used rollers, rather than blades, to clear the windshield and was patented in 1917.


Margaret A. Wilcox

Tired of bone-chilling cold and frosted windshields, Wilcox set out to make the first in-car heating system. A mechanical engineer, she designed a system that pumped heat from a vehicles engine into the cabin and patented her design in 1893. The project was cutting edge, but the auto industry was slow to adopt it. At the time, most cars were open-air, so heating was inefficient. As more vehicles were enclosed, drivers wanted in-car heating and Wilcoxs system gained notice. In 1922, Ford became the first manufacturer to install her hot-air design in its vehicles.  


At Maple Hill Auto, were proud to celebrate our female employees and all of the women who have advanced the industry. Were looking for more women in auto! Come join our team. There’s no college degree required and we offer competitive benefits. Visit our careers page to view open positions. 

Categories: People