Millers Oils Celebrates International Women’s Day

four famous women with the text international womens day

This year Millers Oils is taking a different approach to celebrating International Women’s Day. We have chosen to celebrate historical inspirational woman within the industry we work in, day in, day out.

Whilst we continue to support and celebrate the women within the company and the industry we work in, we will take today to look back on four stories of women who followed the values Millers Oils continues to follow on a daily basis.

We feel today is perfect to reflect on these innovative, influential, adventurous and daring women- one an inventor, two racers and one who made history from her job role alone – all inspirational in their own way and individuals who set the tone to drive change for women working in the automotive sector and beyond.

Mary Anderson

It’s thanks to Mary Anderson that we can see clearly when driving. A simple thought as a passenger during a trip the snow, which resulted in the driver opening the window to clear his window, led to Mary and other passengers on board getting a chill resulting in Mary taking action and designing and inventing windscreen wipers.

The design was patented in 1903, however, astonishingly Mary Anderson never profited from her invention, as the design wasn’t an instant hit with car companies who believed it would cause a distraction for drivers, and now the invention is mandatory on all cars, no one would ever really know who designed something we use daily.

Beatrice Shilling

A woman with passion and sublime talent, Beatrice was not only known for her motorcycle racing stint, but for her sheer input and determination into pursuing her passion for an engineering career. As a child Shilling spent her pocket money on hand tools and won a prize in a national Meccano contest. As a teenager, she bought herself a Motorcycle, teaching herself hands on how to disassemble and reassemble its two stroke engine. Continuing to pursue her passion, she went on to work within electrical engineering companies before attending Manchester University to study Mechanical Engineering,   she received a bachelor’s degree and then studied for a further year to get a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering. In 1932, when she graduated her student card was listed as Mr, as female was not yet a recognised option.

Shilling worked on many projects for the RAE during the Second World War, the most well-known of which was the RAE-Hobson injection carburettor modification AKA Miss Shilling’s Orifice, a mod that solved the problem of Rolls Royce Merlin engines stalling during negative-g flight.

Shilling worked for the RAE until her retirement, working as an engineer in the Mechanical Engineering Department. Despite becoming an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1949, Shilling never reached a top post in the RAE, since such promotions were only offered to men.

Looking in to Shillings involvement within the Motorsport industry takes us on a different path of her life, during the 1930s, Shilling raced motorbikes. After winning a race riding a motorcycle she modified herself she was subject to the sexist comment of “I suppose the men let you win” from interviewers. Not letting it get in her way or prevent her from following her dream, Shilling went on to lap the Brooklands circuit at over 100 miles per hour, with an average speed of 101.85 mph. She was only the second woman to achieve this, for which she received the British Motorcycle Racing Club’s Gold Star award.

Odette Siko

Sticking with the motorsport theme, we take an insight to Odette Siko. On the 21st June, 1930, Odette Siko made motorsport history. She was the first woman to race Le Mans. Racing a Bugatti T40, alongside Marguerite Mareuse they achieved seventh position – this is a result that’s yet to be beaten by an all-female team. They were the first, and remain the best.

Helen Clifford

Finally, we move on to Helen Clifford – who made history for her job title as a mechanic!

Public transport is important globally, but the UK Capitals red bus is recognised world wide. The next time you hop on a London bus, think of Helen Clifford, she is now known as the first woman to be officially responsible for keeping the iconic bus on the move.

Only 39 years ago, on August 1984, at the age of 18, Helen became fully qualified as London Transport’s first female bus mechanic. Shockingly, until then, women had only been given the temporary opportunity to take on what were considered typically “male roles” in stations, garages, depots and engineering works during the First and Second World Wars.

As well as her role of mechanic, Clifford was also a qualified bus driver – a position which was only opened up to women in 1974. However, shockingly, that didn’t stop London Transport launching a recruitment campaign only 6 years later, that ran adverts which played on the then-prevalent, and untrue, stereotype that women were poor drivers.

Looking back at these women, we aim to empower women within the industry we work in, women who may not work in the industry we operate in, but who want inspiration to continue to pursue their dreams, and to reflect at how far women have come within the Automotive Industry.