Synopses & Reviews
The twentieth-century rise of the automobile collided head on with Victorian prescriptions for the proper role and place of women in society. Gender conventions cast women as too weak, dependent, and flighty to manage the fiery motored beast. Overcoming that stereotype was as difficult for women as gaining access to the vote, the professions, and education, yet their personal feats of driving in both war and peace demolished the gender barriers against their taking the road. After women proved once and for all that they could drive under the worst conditions in World War I, they adapted the automobile to their domestic roles in urban society during the 1920s. Written with flair and verve, this volume displays Scharff's erudition in social, cultural, gender, and technological history.
The automobile collided head on with gender in the early twentieth century. Women struggled as hard to overcome the stereotype of the aflightya driver as they did to win access to the vote, higher education, and the professions. The gender debate influenced Detroitas automotive design, engineering, marketing, and sales. Virginia Scharff shows how gender categories seeped into and shaped every corner of our culture, including the automobile.
Though millions of women drive regularly, the image of the flighty "woman driver" continues to stigmatize their abilities. Scharff travels back in time to explore how the first automobiles collided with cultural and sexual notions of feminine nature and how women have influenced the car industry as a whole.
Scharff looks at women's struggles to be accepted as drivers.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 177-212) and index.
About the Author
Virginia Scharff is professor of history at the University of New Mexico.