August 16, 2022
For the past five years or more, the biggest challenge in trucking has been a driver shortage and it is not for the lack of women in the driver’s seat. At D&D, we are proudly female-led and would like to highlight some of the voices we have heard in the industry starting with the drivers.
A recent profile on @NPR talked to some women who are behind the wheel. What we learned is that many of these women are dealing with the same challenges. The takeaway was outlined in three tips that we thought were poignant and worth sharing if you had not listened to the article. They are as follows:
1. Embrace the solitude Trucking offers the flexibility and privacy to consider everything about life. If you are not using the time to evaluate who you are and prioritizing goals to keep you happy, you are missing the boat so to speak. There is no judgment for a male driver that spends his days away from family and there should be none for women either. Using solitude to understand your position and purpose is a gift. One driver profiled by NPR took the long drives to reevaluate her gender and decided to transition quietly behind the wheel of a truck she had spent decades driving.
2. Find your People Jess Graham started out driving with her young daughter but when her daughter started middle school she was left on her own in the truck and found that the environment was less than inviting for a single female vs. when she was accompanied by her daughter. She felt alienated in a male-dominated industry until she discovered Real Women In Trucking, an organization that advocates for sexual assault awareness training for new drivers in trucking schools and on the road.
A lot of the people there had the same experiences I had, and instead of letting it chew them up and spit them out, they banded together to make a change Graham says.
Today, Graham is a board member of Real Women In Trucking, and last year she won the Trucking Industry Trailblazer award at the group's annual Queen of the Road ceremony.
3. Adapt your Passion One truck driver that NPR profile was Brandie Diamond who took the time to follow a passion for cooking on the road. She discovered an online culinary school and enrolled. Today, she is learning to be a chef while she is on the road. To better accommodate her online culinary courses, she has outfitted her truck with a mini fridge, stovetop, and convection oven. She can get fresh ingredients during rest stops and documents her progress in photos to present to the instructors in order to complete her course.
Being in the driver’s seat is not for everyone. It takes a strong character and conviction to compete in a male-dominated industry. But women do it and there is also a large population of women that are entering the industry on the business side.
Sometimes these women start in the family business filling the vending machine and work their way up like Lynette Mathis, the Bennett Family of Companies’ Vice President. Lynette is also the daughter of Marcia G. Taylor, owner, chairman, and CEO of the Bennett Family of Companies. The Bennett Family of Companies includes 20 different businesses and organizations, including Bennett Motor Express, Bennett International Logistics, and Bennett Truck Transport.
Others are hired with particular expertise like Lily Ley who is an experienced Technology and IT executive, mentor to aspiring students, and passionate advocate for more inclusive workplaces for women. In her role as Vice President and CIO for PACCAR, a global automotive truck and engine company, Ley leads the Information Technology (IT) division and the modernization of IT for the Digital Age.
Ley is said to have a focus on applying innovation and a relentless pursuit of enhanced business efficiencies. She is also a member of the MSIS Board of Advisors at the University of Washington. She is the Executive Sponsor for the PACCAR Women’s Association (PWA) where she advocates for inclusion of women in the workplace. She is also involved in SeattleCIO, as an Advisory Board Member. In 2016, The Washington Diversity Council recognized her as the “2016 Washington Most Powerful and Influential Women.”
Kristy Knichel, a second-generation logistics executive has been president of Knichel Logistics for fifteen years. She is said to be the driving force behind their yearly growth and reputation as one of the top service providers within the IMC community. As of 2019, Knichel Logistics has grown to $83 million in revenue.
She has won the inaugural Distinguished Woman in Logistics Award from WIT and she sits on the TIA Board of Directors as the Intermodal Logistics Conference Chair. She has been featured in Pittsburgh Magazine for Women in Business and has received an award for the top 50 fastest growing companies in Pittsburgh not once but twice.
The fact is that according to data highlighted in the WIT Index, the percentage of women leaders in corporations in the commercial freight transportation industry continues to increase. The WIT Index sets show the benchmark with their annual measurement of women who are filling critical roles in transportation.
The 2022 WIT Index shows that 33.8% of C-suite executives in transportation companies are women, an increase of 1.5% compared with 2019 when the last WIT Index was measured. In addition, the 2022 WIT Index shows that 39.6% of company leaders are female. “Company leaders” are defined as someone with supervisory responsibilities and include executives within the C-suite.
Lynette Mathis, V.P. of Bennett Family of Companies is not surprised by the index results and is pleased to see more women coming into the trucking industry. She has seen women entering the industry for a second income from struggling single moms like Jesse Graham to empty nesters looking to make a living with flexibility. Lynn’s company promotes women within their company just as much as the men and she loves to see women filling leadership roles proving that women are as valuable if not more than men in a male-dominated industry.
If you are a woman interested in driving a truck or getting started on the business side of trucking and transportation, contact us today.