PROJECTS

RECENT

A Woman and Her Truck: Pickups, the Woman Driver, and Cowgirl Feminism 

This project addresses the woman driver’s growing, yet often unacknowledged, interest in the pickup truck not only as a mode of transportation, but also as a source of identity formation. Citing a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado Commercial – “A Woman and her Truck” – it investigates how female pickup drivers often assume cowgirl personas as a means to gain access into an automotive culture traditionally associated with masculinity, and to establish themselves as exceptional woman drivers. Developed through interviews conducted with 25 female truck owners, this paper employs the lens of cowgirl feminism – a concept coined by Laura Jane Moore in her historical examination of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame – to consider how the woman driver as cowgirl calls upon the pickup truck as an important site of autonomy, meaning making, and empowerment.

European Journal of American Culture 38.2 (June 2019): 135-153.

Born to Drive: Elderly Women’s Recollections of Early Automotive Experiences

Much of women’s automotive experience is hidden due to the automobile’s longstanding association with masculinity. This project is drawn from interviews from women in their 80s and 90s who came of age during an era in which women were discouraged from driving. It not only uncovers the various strategies women employed to overcome obstacles to automobility, but also provides important evidence of women’s longstanding enthusiasm for cars and the driving experience.

The Journal of Transport History 40.3 (December 2019).

Where on the Web is Dorothy Haener?: Recovering Dorothy Haener from Labor, Automotive, and Women’s History

Dorothy Haener was the first woman elected to a negotiating committee in the UAW, a board member of the UAW’s Women’s Committee, and was a founding member of the National Organization for Women. However, despite Haener’s considerable accomplishments, her online presence is nearly invisible. This paper attempts to not only bring attention to Haener’s pioneering work for women’s rights, but through her complicated labor and feminist history, offers a possible explanation as well as a potential remedy for Haener’s exclusion from these important online locations.

Automotive History Review 59 (2019): 34-49.

FUTURE

What Would Miss Daisy Drive? The Road Trip Film, the Automobile, and the Woman Behind the Wheel.

This paper in progress examines the relationship between a woman and her automobile in a variety of road trip films. Focusing on the car rather than the journey, the project encourages us to reassess the roll of the automobile in film, to expand our understanding of the road trip genre to include the female driver, as well as to broaden our notion of women’s car choice to include considerations of identity, agency, friendship, family, and empowerment.

From Powder Puff to W Series: The Evolution of Women-Only Racing in Motorsport History

I have recently been asked to contribute a chapter focusing on women in motorsports to an upcoming book on motorsports history. This article will explore the chronology and controversy of all-female racing events, and consider how women-only racing complicates, facilitates, and liberates women’s entry, participation, and recognition in the masculine world of motorsports.

Woman’s Car to Chick Car: A Social History of the Woman Driver

This book-sized project calls upon the vehicle category “chick car” to examine the evolution of the woman’s car from a gendered domestic tool to a symbol of women’s empowerment. Relying on historical accounts, my past work on the chick car phenomenon, as well as the contributions of over 50 chick-car-driving-women, this project brings attention to longstanding auto industry efforts to constrain women’s car choice through reliance on “innate” biological natures, and the ways in which female motorists have persistently challenged such directives and in the process, reimagined what it means to be a woman driver.

Women Writing Cars: The Experiences of Female Auto Journalists

This project will focus on three accomplished female auto journalists who work in a variety of media. Through interviews, as well as an examination of their collected body of work, I hope to uncover not only the strategies women employ to overcome obstacles in a male dominated field, but also how the writers call upon their own automotive experiences as women to add an important and often missing point of view to auto journalism.

This is Not My Husband’s Jeep: Women On and Off the Road

This is a qualitative research project that will focus on female owners of Jeeps and other off-road vehicles.