Women Truck Drivers

The American public sees more and more women behind the wheel of a big rig and they must surely think this is a new thing for the women to branch out of the traditional boundaries set for women. Actually women have been branching out for many years–longer than you may think, too. Women truckers of today naturally have the women who have driven for 30 plus years to thank and those women have the women before them to thank for branching out in the field of Aviation. Yes, Aviation. Because of these women involved in Aviation and their achievements, this may have inspired many women to continue on with their dreams in the field of their choice. The medical field would be another area that was a hard one for women to enter. Aviation and Trucking are similar so I‘ll stick to it. 

I came across this fascinating information over the holiday weekend and thought it would make a great post so women could see that throughout the years that women have been branching out. We tend to forget our past and how we got to where we are today.

America’s first 2 licensed pilots were women in 1911—Harriet Quimby and Matilde Moisant. In 1798 a French woman, Jeanne Labrosse made a solo balloon flight. In 1916, Ruth Law set a new nonstop distance record of 590 miles from Chicago to Hornell New York. Anne Lindbergh (wife of Charles) was a pilot. And we all know about Amelia Earhart. Many women from several country’s were pilots during those early years. All these women had to deal with the obstacles put in their way just because they were women—-tampering of equipment at testing time so the women would fail the test. Given inferior equipment to prove themselves. And the list goes on and on. (Time Life Books and the internet)

Sadly some of this still goes on today. I have been told that “if you don’t work out, I’ll never hire another woman again.” To which I reply, “You keep hiring men to replace the men who don’t work out.”

Now moving to trucking, Lillie Drennan was the first licensed female truck driver and trucking firm owner in 1929 in Texas. She operated Drennan Truck Lines for 24 years. This is very good reading to see what she had to deal with, that the men did not deal with. I encourage you to look this up for further reading.

The women who have driven for the 30 plus years were determined to not let anyone stand in their way. These are the women who helped change the trucking industry to accept women. They too put up with many things that the men did not have to prove. Lets just say the trucking world was not kind to them. The industry did change to make it better for both sexes like power steering on the trucks and better riding trucks. Even the truck stops changed for the better too for both men and women and other travelers. Showers/bathrooms for women. More of a food selection too.

Anyone in a truck or bus or just traveling has it easy today compared to the early years. Even the interstates were still being built in 1975. Our roads are better, vehicles have improved, trucks have qualcomm, most have cell phones, internet is easy to access, there are plenty of truck stops and places to eat.

Women today not only drive, many own their own truck or even a trucking company. Some are high ranking in the trucking industry. Others are involved in the office ranging from payroll to dispatcher to mechanics to safety director to President and/or owner. Even I managed to dispatch (trucking/buses) and also be the first safety director at my previous employer. These are the women I look up to as they made it possible for the rest of us to succeed.


~ by Rhonda on June 1, 2009.

One Response to “Women Truck Drivers”

  1. “if you don’t work out, I’ll never hire another woman again.”

    From my upbringing, it’s hard to believe this still goes on today. What are people teaching their kids for them to grow up with this mentality?

    In any case, good article Rhonda. As a licensed pilot myself, I’m greatful for those female pilots that overcame their setbacks and surged the industry to where it is today. Those woman could have easily given up in the face of those who were out to ruin them, simply because of their gender.

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