More Female Automotive Engineers and Designers, Please

I’ve been having car conversations with friends, male and female, all week, and I have concluded we need more female automotive engineers and designers. A no brainer, huh? I knew this already, having worked at Art Center College of Design where 1 in 10 automotive design graduates is female and from where 2/3 of the world’s automotive designers graduate. Many of these designers also collaborated with engineering students at Cal Tech. But I am again reminded of this fact every time the seatbelt on my Honda Civic misbehaves. Sit too low, and the seatbelt wraps around your ears. Sit too high, and it slips off your shoulder. Lately, this seatbelt has had a bad case of separation anxiety, refusing to let go once buckled. I finally had to push the seat all the way back and climb out of the seatbelt last week. This Honda is now currently sitting in my parking lot pouting and refusing to start. Its days are numbered…

But it is not just my car that does this. Remember the short-lived days of the automatic seatbelt? My ex’s minivan had these. He closed the car door, started the engine and the seatbelts automatically wrapped around him and the passenger. Again, sit too low, and you run the risk of a “safety decapitation.” Sit too high, and you’re in danger of a freebie radical mastectomy.

What women there are in the automotive industry have been designing automotive interiors since the 1950s. The big push lately has been for women to break into exterior automotive design and engineering. The engineering part includes mechanical and electrical engineering for starters. But I think we still need women working on those interiors as well as cool exteriors, and no, I do not mean designing a really fab rearview mirror that doubles as a make up vanity mirror. The American Academy of Pediatrics advised this week that parents should keep their toddlers in a rear-facing car seat until the child turns two. I bet there are a lot of unhappy parents out there this week, and I am also willing to bet that the number of mommies vs daddies carting their kiddos to and from daycare is probably like 80% vs 20%. Have your ever tried to soothe a screaming baby who a) you cannot reach and b) cannot see you? I know it’s a pain, and I don’t even have kids. Yes, I know, parents should pull over, but how often as a parent have you actually done that?

If women want to work designing the automotive exteriors, that’s fine too. Please design a coupe door that doesn’t a) hit you in the chest when you tug it open, b) close on you when you are trying to execute the knees-together-and-swivel maneuver when exiting the car in a skirt or c) how about designing a door that actually opens for you when you unlock the car with a key fob? Systems that let you know when you’ve left your coffee on top of the car or your baby in the car when going to work would be helpful too. About half of the driving population is female. A little help here, ok?

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2 Responses

  1. Amen, sister!!!! I had a Volkswagen with those automatic seatbelts. It ripped the glasses off my face every time I turned to step out of the car. I am tired of seats that assume a sitting height I will never achieve, requiring me to have my knees against the dashboard by the time I can sit high enough to see well.

    And while we are at it, how about someplace to put your briefcase?????

  2. I admire your taste in cute cars. Definitely need something to secure your briefcase and a cup holder deep enough to accommodate my 32 oz. caffeine addiction.

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