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Celebrating Dorothée Pullinger, inventor of the first car “for women”

By WITW Staff on January 28, 2016

Though she died 30 years ago today, the life and times of Scottish car engineer Dorothée Pullinger remain worthy of reflection and celebration.

Early in her life, she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father, famed designer Thomas Pullinger, according to the BBC. In 1914, she asked to join the Institution of Automobile Engineer and was rejected on the grounds that “the word person means a man and not a woman.” By World War I, she was in charge of 7,000 female munitions workers in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria and afterwards, was finally accepted into the institution as the first female member. She became a manager at Galloway Motors and started a engineering college for women there, fighting sexism left and right.

Inspired by the Fiat 501, she produced the Galloway car — the first-ever car produced with early 20th-century women in mind, with raised seats, storage space, and conveniently-placed gears. It was also one of the first automobiles to consider a rear view mirror a standard feature. “You follow the things you believe in. In her youth, women didn’t go into engineering — they were in the house doing the cooking, doing the housework,” her son Lewis, 84, told the BBC.

But not Pullinger, who believed in the skills and smarts of other women, and employed them rightfully so.

Read the full story at the BBC.


What makes this car rare is that its designer is a woman