Ford’s First Black Woman Car Designer Pens Book About Journey

JThe automotive industry has always been a male-dominated field, but across the space there are stories of pioneering women who have significantly contributed to shaping the transportation landscape. Among them is Ford’s first black female automotive designer Emeline King whose journey was highlighted in an autobiography, Fox 2 Detroit reported.

The book – titled What do you mean by a black girl who can’t design cars? Emeline King, she did it!—is a story that embodies the spirit of perseverance; illustrating how King defied the odds in an industry where black women are underrepresented. King – whose father serious king was a plastic model specialist at Ford – developed a passion for automobiles at an early age. As a child, she often played with toy cars and was fascinated by the Ford Mustang. “It was my first visit to my father’s work at the Ford Design Center that became the catalyst for me wanting a career in transportation design,” she explained in an interview with Ford. “Having my dad guide me, influence me, and expertly guide me was my bridge, my connection to my dreams. I was very lucky because my father also introduced me to a group of talented African-American designers, modellers, and engineers who worked at Ford. They took the time to mentor me throughout my career at the Ford Design Center.

Intrigued by the creative process behind the development of automobiles, the Detroit native, a graduate of Cass Technical High School, decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a career in the automotive manufacturing industry. She studied transportation design at the Art Center College of Design in California and was hired by Ford Motor Company in 1983. During her nearly 25 years at Ford, King worked on interior design and the development of the 1994 Ford Mustang, the 1990 Ford Probe, the 2000 Ford Thunderbird and other vehicles. She was also responsible for patenting the 1989 Thunderbird’s 15-inch wheel cover.

The Wayne State University graduate parted ways with the company in 2008, but her groundbreaking contributions will forever be etched in the auto giant’s history. King, who is now an artist and author, hopes his journey in the industry will inspire kids to pursue their dreams and challenge the status quo. She would like to start a STEM program for girls.

“Being the only African-American female transportation designer, it took me by surprise and it took a while to get over it,” King said. “However, I took my lemons and turned them into lemonade. I took my sorrow and mixed it with the sun. I am now so proud to have written a book that I hope will inspire young girls and boys to never give up. To influence them so they can stay focused and alert, and never look back.

King’s inspiring book comes as there is a major need for racial and gender diversity in the automotive industry. Research shows that black women make up 6.2% of the vehicle manufacturing workforce.


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