Automakers have a long and checkered past when it comes to attempting to market cars specifically to woman buyers. Stabs at attracting the female sex have ranged from the subtly sexist notion that woman are really only shopping on behalf of their children's needs, to out-and-out condescension of lipstick-colored paint jobs and interior-matching frocks. (For one such clunker, take a look at the ill-conceived Dodge La Femme, above.)

Slate writer Libby Copeland has put together an interesting piece that attempts to answer the question, "Why does the auto industry get women so wrong?" You may or may not take issue with that premise to begin with, but it's hard to argue with the evidence that auto companies, at the very least, seem to make wild swings of strategy on a regular basis.

In the Slate piece, we get a good sense of the history of for-women car marketing, as well as some reality based information about why and how women and men shop for cars differently. It's a compelling read, check it out.