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Women in Transportation

In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8, 2021), we thought it would be appropriate to share some key milestones in history related to women and transportation. We turned to transportation.gov for the very interesting information they have collected. Here are a few highlights from their archive: 

1855
Susan Morningstar
Susan Morningstar became one of the first women on record employed by a railroad.

1895
Clara K. Bragdon
Two years after the first federal road agency, the Office of Road Inquiry, was established, Clara K. Bragdon was hired as an assistant messenger at $840 a year.

1900
Anne Rainsford French Bush
Anne Rainsford French Bush, apparently the first woman to receive a license to drive a car, obtained a “steam engineer’s license,” which entitled her to operate a “four-wheeled vehicle powered by steam or gas.”

1903
Mary Anderson
Mary Anderson patented a window cleaning device, the predecessor of today's windshield wipers.

1909
Alice Huyler Ramsey
Alice Huyler Ramsey was the first woman to drive coast-to-coast, from New York to California. She also founded the Women’s Motoring Club. 

1915
Wilma Russey
Wilma Russey became the first woman to work as a taxi driver in New York and was an expert garage mechanic.

1922
Helen Schultz
Helen Schultz, the "Iowa Bus Queen," established the Red Ball Transportation Company, providing city-to-city transportation by bus.

Amelia Earhart

1931
Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart set the woman’s autogiro altitude record of 18,415 feet. The following year, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

1940
Mary Converse
Mary Converse became the first woman to earn captain’s papers (for yachts of any tonnage) in the U.S. Merchant Marine. During World War II, she taught navigation to Naval Reserve officers.

1943
Helene Rother
Helene Rother became the first woman to work as an automotive designer when she joined the interior styling staff of General Motors in Detroit.

1953
Jacqueline Cochran
Jacqueline Cochran was the first woman to break the sound barrier.

1962
Beverly Cover
Beverly Cover became the first woman highway engineer to join the Bureau of Public Roads, the predecessor of the Federal Highway Administration.

1970
Mary Anderson
Mary Anderson was the first woman to successfully complete the Federal Highway Administration’s 27-month highway engineer training program

1977
Janet Guthrie
Janet Guthrie qualified for and competed in the Indianapolis 500. Before becoming a race car driver, Guthrie worked as a pilot, flight instructor, aerospace engineer, technical editor, and public representative for major corporations.

1983
Elizabeth Hanford Dole
Elizabeth Hanford Dole was sworn in as the first woman Secretary of the Department of Transportation. 

Mae Jemison

1992
Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison, MD, was the first African-American woman in space. 

2000

Rodica Baranescu
Rodica Baranescu, Ph.D., became the first woman president of the Society of Automotive Engineers. As an engineer at the International Truck and Engine Corporation she worked on developing environmentally-friendly fuel, lubricants, and coolants for diesel engines.

2010
First Female Superintendents of the SFMTA
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency selected its first female superintendents.

2013
Sarah Canclini
Sarah Canclini became the first person and the first woman in the maritime and transportation industry to earn the new A.A.S. in Maritime Technologies from Tidewater Community College.

To all of the strong, dedicated women - thank you for making history and for making valuable contributions to the field of transportation.

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