We at Ford Motor Company believe in diversity and encourage diversity and inclusion. In the past, we’ve worked with top talent, which includes many women, in order to further these ideals. We have actually been employing women in our payroll since the very beginning of our business. We invite you to celebrate the accomplishments of amazing women.
After our original factory was outgrown, located on Mack Avenue in 1904, Ford relocated to its Piquette Avenue plant situated in Detroit, Michigan. It was the Ford Motor Company’s first factory-built specifically for its customers as well as the location of the creation of the Model T. Three years later, Georgia Boyer became the first woman to be a part of the Ford Service Department, and in 1922, she was one of three employees who were female, along with Edythe Bice, and Marie Wirtz, selected to represent Ford Motor Company with the Good Will Delegation. The Good Will Delegation went to observe the reconstruction efforts undertaken by the American Committee for Devastated France after World War I.
In addition to questioning the status quo was Henry Ford’s wife, Clara Ford. Clara was a vocal supporter of women’s right to vote and was involved in the suffrage movement across Michigan as well as across the country. She was the vice-chair for the Dearborn Branch of the Equal Suffrage League of Wayne County and was also a member of the Michigan League of Women Voters. The year 1921 saw her as the “director at large” of the organization. She continued to serve in the position for at least ten years. In the midst of the Great Depression, Clara wrote an amount of $3,000 for the National League of Women Voters as a token of financial support in order to push forward the debate on women’s rights.
In the 1930s, Ford Motor Company was expanding, and so did the role of women’s employment. Production started with Ford’s Dagenham Plant in England, where the first Ford V-8 was rolled off the production line as well, and Henry and Edsel Ford founded the Ford Foundation. In the same decade, another woman was making national Ford car sales history. With Howard Pore dealership in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Olive Parsons sold 82 cars in 1939, making her one of the country’s top sales figures in 1939.
The 1940s were an incredible period for women at work. As a result of WWII and the war on terror, women began working in factories all over the United States in support of the efforts of the war. As more women joined the ranks of Ford and other companies, the Company set up a Women’s Education Program for new employees in areas like engine testing as well as assembly, machine operations, and inspection.
This decade also introduced us to Rosie the Riveter, the girl who appeared on the famous World War II poster exclaiming “We Can Do It,” which was based on Ford Employee Rose Will Monroe. Monroe was a part of the Willow Run assembly line, which was responsible for building B-29 as well as B-24 “Liberator” military planes to assist in fighting in the conflict. For more information on the significance of female employees working within Ford production lines in World War II, check out this report on Rosie The Riveter and her legacy.
It wasn’t just the assembly lines that Ford women made a difference. Many women entered male-dominated areas in the 1940s. One of them was the first draftswoman, Dolores Marsac, who was hired at Ford’s Aircraft School. The year 1943 was the time Mary Von Mach was one of the six women employed at Willow Run Assembly Plant. Willow Run Assembly Plant and owner of the first transportation pilot license granted to a woman from Michigan. Jean Stommel was one of the first women to be employed within Ford’s chemical and metallurgical divisions. She was a steel analyst for anti-aircraft directors and tanks in Highland Park. There was also Leota Carroll, who was the first female designer to be hired by Ford.
The 1940s offered a myriad of possibilities for women despite the requirement of being involved in the workforce. After the doors were opened on such a huge size, women were still looking for jobs across the departments of Ford. Inculcating this talent was a crucial part of creating an environment that allowed women to achieve. The trend continued throughout the years that followed. Watch for the second installment of Women of Ford to learn more about the progress women made at work in the mid-to-late 20th century.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is a multinational company with its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, that is committed to helping create an ideal world, one in which every person has the freedom to explore and follow their dreams. Ford’s Ford+ plan for growth and value creation blends existing strengths with new capabilities and constant communication with customers to enhance the experience and build loyalties of its customers. Ford creates and offers fresh, essential Ford trucks as well as sport utility vehicles, commercial vehicles, cars, and Lincoln luxurious vehicles, in addition to connected services. In addition, Ford is establishing leadership positions in mobility solutions, which include self-driving technology, and offers financial assistance through the Ford Motor Credit Company. Ford employs around 182,000 employees around the world. For more information about the business as well as its products,d Credit is available at corporate.ford.com.