Cleveland Indians honor women in transportation
Whether it's excelling as a transit mechanic or running a state DOT, the transportation industry has no shortage of evidence demonstrating that women have plenty of what it takes to succeed. In trucking, for example, we've seen this firsthand thanks to Ellen Voie and Women In Trucking, who have worked so hard to open the door for more and more women to enter the industry.
Last Sunday, the Cleveland Indians acknowledged this effort by celebrating women in all transportation careers, and I was honored to be at Progressive Field and watch Ellen throw out the first pitch.
The members of Women In Trucking have been instrumental in encouraging more employment of women in trucking and minimizing the obstacles women face once they're in the industry. TravelCenters of America CEO Tom O’Brien recognized Ellen’s influence by highlighting important changes his company has made at TA-Petro truck stops that improve the health and welfare of all customers who use their facilities.
As Andreea Raaber, Vice President for Business Development at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and a member of the Women In Trucking Board of Directors, said, "From driving the big rigs to driving the decisions that help shape our industry today and tomorrow, women hold an ever-increasing role in the trucking industry.”
Because of the terrific job Women In Trucking has done, it might seem as if women in the trucking industry have leveled the playing field. But, although women are more visible in the transportation industry today and there is--as the Indians recognized on Sunday--plenty to celebrate, women still make up only about five percent of those behind the wheel of America's trucks.
It's not an easy industry. The lingering legacy of roughness and days and weeks away from home can make it seem formidable. But the women who do choose to drive commercial vehicles have been true champions for those who follow them--advocating for protection from harrassment, pressing for safer parking and safer truck stops, and breaking new ground with every mile they drive.
Women not only belong behind the wheel; we also belong in roles--like Andreea Raaber's--where we can make the trucking industry safer, stronger, and smarter.
At DOT, we’re doing our part. We’re working with partners like Women In Trucking and the Women's Transportation Seminars (WTS) to create a pipeline that will help bring a new generation of women into the transportation industry. We have also launched Transportation YOU, a transportation career exploration initiative for girls ages 13 to 18.
We need to keep expanding options to help women reach new and better opportunities so that American transportation better reflects the nation it serves.
We can do that by encouraging more women to consider careers in the trucking industry and all transportation careers by supporting those who take on the challenge of those careers. Given the opportunity, women can take transportation the extra mile.
Anne Ferro is Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.