It’s a underwhelming fact that less than 7% of commercial drivers today are women, according to senior advisor to the associate administrator for policy at FMCSA, Shannon Watson.
With the truck driver shortage that has been plaguing the logistics industry in recent years, women are being encouraged to apply. However, despite attractive benefits, lucrative salaries, and plentiful work opportunities, women face an extra set of challenges that many men don’t have to think about.
From sexual harassment, to inequality in the workplace and balancing life at home raising children, the transportation world is one industry that has a ways to go when it comes to recognizing the skills, hard work, and dedication of women truck drivers.
In honor of Women’s Month, we look at a few of the iconic women throughout history who helped pave the way for women in trucking.
In 1909, young 22-year-old Alice Huyler Ramsey drove coast-to-coast in the US, cementing her legacy as the first woman to accomplish such a feat. She founded the Women’s Motoring Club and was the first woman to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2000.
During WWI it became commonplace for women to take over what were considered men’s roles in the workplace due to men going oversees to fight. One such industry that saw women taking the wheel, was the automotive industry.
In 1918, Luella Bates worked as a test driver for the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company. After the war, she drove a Model B truck as a demonstrator, and became the first woman to receive a driver’s license in New York in 1920.
After she received her license, the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. sent her on a road trip around the US to demonstrate how women could drive trucks just as well as men.
In 1929, Lillie Elizabeth Drennan overcame sex bias when she persevered to receive her CDL license despite having a hearing impairment. This made her the first woman commercial truck driver in Texas.
She went on to found her own trucking company, called the Drennan Truck Line. Her company took advantage of the opportunities presented by an oil boom in Eastern Texas, and Drennan trucks provided logistics services, which included hauling dangerous cargo such as TNT and dynamite to and from the oil fields.
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