Women Truck Drivers on the Road

  2014 US Trucking News – Women Truck Drivers on the Road Women are not new to truck driving or to the freight transport industry. Women who work as truck drivers are simply modern day female freight movers, who have been present for nearly a century, but are also rarely recognized. Luella Bates drove a class B truck for the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company from 1918-1922 in Clintonville, Wisconsin. Bates is known as the first woman truck driver. Lilie Elizabeth McGee Drennan is often credited as the first licensed female truck driver. She was given up for adoption after her 1897 birth in Texas. She only had a fifth grade education, married at the age of 15, became a mother and divorced two years later. During her second marriage, Drennan was introduced to the business of trucking. She became a truck driver as well as the sole owner of the Drennan Truck Line. Drennan’s hearing impairment threatened her from being given a license by the regulatory commission of her day. And according to the Texas State Historical Association, Drennan perceived gender bias as a factor, rather than her hearing ability She successfully argued her case, and was given a commercial license in 1929.

 

According to Adriesue Gomez, a female trucking pioneer, women who work as truck drivers during WWII were not uncommon. She also says that women were encouraged to tackle male-dominated jobs during the 1940s war efforts. But after the war, they were expected to go back to the kitchen. During the 1960s, a sexual revolution heated up the equality issues in the workplace, and many of these issues remain today. It is hardly recognized now that it was Gomez along with the 1970’s Coalition of Women Truck Drivers, a 150-membered group that organized to fight hiring discrimination and sexual misconduct in trucking companies that paved the way to modern day recruitment campaigns that encourage women to apply for truck driving jobs. Everyone knows that women make excellent and conscientious professional commercial drivers. But many are also becoming aware that past EEOC discrimination cases that were brought by courageous women truckers like Gomez created hiring magnates. However, for women who are entering the trucking business in 2014, the problem known as ‘Sleeper Test’ from Gomez’s era has not yet been resolved. Male trainers and co-drivers continue to coerce, badger, or force sex from female drivers. This is alive and well in many large truck driver carrying trainers, and sadly, some female drivers do oblige to these male drivers’ wants, wrongly believing that this is the only way to get a passing grade for a Commercial Drivers’ License. Education is a must for women who are entering trucking. Women who are already in the industry as drivers and as a related support personnel to improve retention numbers, but all too often women in trucking work against one another. Whether these women are well-intentioned yet powerless, or on a prima donna power trip since she has become a driver and has not encountered any obstacles, then she has no one to thank, she does not need any help in the future. This shouldn’t be viewed as an achievement for women, since these women are not trucking heroines.

Women Truck Drivers

Women Truck Drivers

 

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