Celebrating Women in Freight From Pioneers to Modern Moguls

Celebrating women's strides in the freight industry, from pioneers like first trucking company owner Lillie Drennan to today's leaders.

Celebrating Women in Freight From Pioneers to Modern Moguls

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. We're highlighting the role of women in the traditionally male-dominated industry of freight.

👩 Being a Woman in Freight
Plus, find out who the largest U.S. private companies are.
The freight industry is one of the most male-dominated sectors globally, with approximately 92-94% of roles traditionally occupied by men. However, recent trends indicate a shift. According to the 2023 Women in Trucking Association (WIT) index, there is a growing presence of women in various roles: C-Suite executive roles held by women: 31.6%. Company Leadership positions: 36.9%. HR & Talent Management: Predominantly women at 74.6%. Dispatcher roles: 43.5%. Professional female drivers with a Class A license: Increased to 12.1% in 2023 from 7.9% in 2018.

We're taking a look back to honor the female figures who have blazed trails in our sector.

Luella Bates

Luella Bates driving a FWD Model B truck, 1922.

Luella Bates stood out in the 1920s as the first female truck driver, breaking gender barriers in the freight industry. She became a celebrated figure for safely driving a 3-ton truck nationwide, promoting the viability of women in freight during an era when their roles were heavily restricted. Her legacy paved the way for future generations of women in transportation.

Lillie Elizabeth Drennan

Lillie Elizabeth Drennan holds the distinction of being the first licensed female truck driver in Texas and the whole of the United States. In 1929, after her divorce, Drennan became the sole owner of Drennan Truck Line. She managed her company for almost 24 years, during which she maintained an exemplary safety record, received numerous safety awards, and gained recognition for her dynamic personality and strict yet effective management style.

Edwina Justus

Edwina Justus, 1976 Image Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau

Edwina "Curlie" Justus trailblazed as Union Pacific Railroad's first African American woman locomotive engineer. Overcoming the rejections due to her race and gender, she rose from a Traction Motor Clerk to an esteemed engineer in 1976. Despite facing intense discrimination, including a cross burning on her lawn, she courageously led locomotive operations in Nebraska, skillfully transporting essential goods and exemplifying resilience in the face of adversity.

Modern Moguls in Freight

Over the past year, our FreightCaviar Podcast has been privileged to host a series of remarkable women, each a testament to the diverse and dynamic roles women play in our industry.

These leaders, hailing from various segments of logistics and transportation, have shared insights from navigating supply chain complexities to spearheading sustainability initiatives. You can check out some of these interviews below.

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