The trucking industry, often perceived as a male-dominated realm, has witnessed the tenacity and skill of numerous women who’ve not just entered the scene but have left an indelible mark. From the times of global wars to our contemporary era, these women have shifted gears, broken stereotypes, and paved the way for many more to follow.
The War Era: Women in the Driver’s Seat
During the trying times of World War I, as men took to the battlefields, women took to the roads, filling the void left behind. They didn’t just fill the positions temporarily; they showcased their skills and capability to run the industry just as efficiently as their male counterparts. But, as peace ensued, societal norms nudged them back into their domestic roles, leaving the trucking scene predominantly male.
Trailblazers in the Trucking Terrain
Let’s talk about some of the women who defied the norms and made their mark:
- Luella Bates: A legend in her own right, Luella drove for Four Wheel Drive Auto Company between 1918 and 1922. By 1920, she had become the first woman to hold a driver’s license in New York.
- Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan: As Texas’ first licensed female trucker, Lillie’s story is nothing short of inspirational. Launching a trucking company in the late 1920s with her then-husband, she quickly grew her fleet and workforce. Despite facing discrimination due to her gender and hearing impairment when applying for a commercial driver’s license, Lillie fought back and not only earned her license in 1929 but also received accolades for her safe driving practices. During WWII, her dedication even caught the attention of the U.S. Army, which lauded her for advocating and recruiting female truck drivers.
- Andra Rush: Founder of the Rush Trucking Corporation, she started with just one van and a few contracts. Today, her company boasts over a thousand trucks in operation.
- Stephanie Klang: With over three decades of experience in trucking, Stephanie has been a long-time advocate for women in the industry and has been recognized multiple times for her impeccable safety record.
- Adriesue “Bitsy” Gomez: A fierce advocate for women in trucking, Bitsy founded the Coalition of Women Truck Drivers, a support group to address issues faced by women in the industry.
Tackling the Challenges & Leading the Charge
While the legacy of these stalwarts is impressive, it’s essential to note that challenges persist. From facing gender-bias and safety concerns to juggling personal and professional roles, women in trucking are constantly proving their mettle. Organizations like the Women in Trucking Association continue to amplify their voices and address their unique needs. As of 2022, women represent a respectable 13.7% of professional drivers, indicating a positive change in industry dynamics.
Joyride, recognizing the potential of women in driving change, is at the forefront of this revolution. With a concerted effort to recruit, train, and support female drivers, Joyride stands as a testament to the future of a more inclusive trucking industry.
Let’s drive into the future, championing the spirit of these incredible women. Until next time, keep trucking and stay inspired!