History of Women In the Trucking Industry
Historically, truck driving has always been a male-dominated profession. However, the trucking landscape is rapidly changing, welcoming more women to the workforce. Over the last few decades, women have ventured and succeeded in various careers in transportation - from truck driving to sales and management.
To honor Women’s History Month, it’s important to reflect on the path that was paved by the amazing women who pioneered the trucking industry.
The First African-American Female Driver
Mary Fields became the first African-American woman to work for the United States postal service in 1892, at the age of 60. She drove a team of six horses in Montana and was known for her fiery temperament and passion for good cigars. Mary Fields was an inspiration to the African-American community and to the women who followed in her footsteps.
The First Woman To Drive Coast-To-Coast
Alice Huyler Ramsey was the first woman to drive from New York to California in 1909. At the young age of 22, she embarked on a journey that became a historical event. Ramsey drove a four-cylinder Maxwell DA for the total of 59 days and had covered over 3,800 miles.
The First Female Truck Driver
Luella Bates started her career in transportation in 1918 when she was hired by Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. in Clintonville, WI, where she test drove Model B trucks. After World War I, Bates decided to continue her career in trucking, and became the first female truck driver to travel interstate and receive a commercial driver’s license in the state of New York in 1920.
The First Woman To Own A Trucking Company
Lillie Elizabeth Drennan was the first female driver to receive a commercial driver’s license in the state of Texas in 1929. Later that year, Drennan became the first woman to ever own a trucking company (Drennan Truck Lines). With her wit and passion for trucking, Drennan had an outstanding reputation for training and hiring female drivers, maintaining an impeccable safety record.
The First Woman To Drive The Alaska Highway
Rusty Dow was the first female truck driver to conquer the entire length of the Alaska Highway in 1944. Driving 1,532 miles, it took her 7 days to deliver her cargo and return home. She navigated through challenging terrain, snow storms, and poor visibility, proving that she was tough enough to get the job done.
The First Female UPS Driver
Mazie Lanham became the first woman to drive for UPS in 1943. She became the first member of the “Brown Betties” delivery team and paved the way for women in the package delivery industry.
Though it was not always easy, these women proved their strength on and off the road. As the trucking industry continues to grow more diverse, we can now look back and recognize their achievements that paved the path for the modern female drivers. Today, there are thousands of women following in the footsteps of these pioneers, honoring their work and their spirit.