Women on the Open Road
A Peek into the Past
Before we get started on the topic of women in trucking, we need to take a trip back in time. It’s mid-WWI and the country is lacking manpower back home to do many of the male-dominated jobs. Most of them were blue collar positions and while most of us have heard of Rosie the Riveter during WWII, there were plenty trailblazing women before her that helped open the doors to stepping in when their country needed them.
Enter Luella Bates, the first influential female truck driver in the United States. Her company, Four Wheel Drive, positioned her as a tester and demonstrator to prove how easy the vehicles were to operate. She stepped in to not only drive and operate the trucks, but also served as a mechanic and train others to drive it.
Even after the war ended, she stood her ground at FWD and maintained her passion for driving and involving other women in the industry alongside her.
She helped paved the way for another historical figure in the trucking industry, a Ms. Lillie Elizabeth Drennan, who not only was the first to earn her CDL license in 1929, but owned and operated her own trucking company. Known as the “dry land Tugboat Annie” she ran Drennan Truck Line with an iron fist and was even recognized for her intense work ethic and focus on safety.
When addressing the San Antonio Traffic Club in 1943, she emphasized ““I know what it is to wade in mud above my boot tops to get my trucks through to their destination; I know what it is to sit behind the steering wheel of any truck for 48 hours without rest or sleep; I know what it is to have my truck break down on a lonely stretch on one of these cold Texas nights,” she told the group. Lillie also emphasized, “I am no desk trucker.””
Many came after these pioneer women in trucking. But since then, times have changed and with that, economic status and the country itself.
The Modern Woman
Gone are the days of a working woman being frowned upon or socially unacceptable. Fast forward to present day and the career woman is revered as a marvel that overcome outdated ways of thinking. So, it’s no surprise that the transportation industry is made up of 47% woman and growing. With a majority of those working in administrative and management roles, 7% of those are behind the big wheel.
A far cry from office-life, the woman trucker is called to be completely self-sufficient, self-motivated, and a little bit of a thicker skin. A male dominated industry has likely been a deterrent when it comes to recruiting women into driving. Another may be familial obligations and a need to have a job that is stationary. But the biggest reason that has always been present is safety.
With the average feeling of safety only being about four out of a rating from one to ten, the trucking woman must keep an extra sense of awareness when it comes to her surroundings. Those in the industry have been tasked with creating healthier, safer environments that could benefit everyone. From well known truck stops incorporating more safety features such as more lighting and security cameras to being able to offer better meal options, women are changing the industry for the better.
Adapting is a part of our DNA here at Meadow Lark and we wouldn’t be where we are today without our very own woman-in-power, Amanda Roth. Knowing the business inside and out has given her the advantage in leading the company to success and growth. With her and many other women in executive roles here at Meadow Lark, we can look outside the box, see and understand the needs women in the industry have. Change is ever present in the trucking industry these days and we are proud to lead the charge.
Are you a woman looking to join a compassionate, driven company that treats you with respect and dignity? Contact us today and get to know why our drivers love working with us.