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Celebrating Women Truckers: Five Unsung Heroes Who Revolutionized the Industry

Last Updated on  March 8, 2024  By  eformblogadmin
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Let’s be honest. Trucking isn’t usually the first — or even tenth — career a woman would choose for herself. Long hours, tough freight routes, irregular working hours, and serious safety concerns are some of the barriers keeping women out of the industry.. But there have been many who have answered the call of the road. Of the 1.37 million truckers in America, 4.8% are women — up from 4% a decade ago. 

Women truck drivers have been steering their way to success, breaking barriers, and challenging stereotypes in the trucking industry for decades. Often, though, their impact goes unnoticed, overlooked, or ignored. Let’s change the narrative by celebrating female trucking trailblazers and their significant contributions to the industry. 

Mary Fields

Born in 1832, Mary Fields, also known as "Stagecoach Mary," was 60 years old when she became the first African American woman to work for the United States Postal Service. She drove a horse and wagon to deliver the mail, challenging societal norms and breaking stereotypes. She was also a trucking industry pioneer, her adventurous spirit laying the foundation for future generations of women who seek unconventional careers — including driving a truck. 

Luella Bates

Often referred to as the "Queen of the Road," Luella Bates was a pioneering figure in the trucking industry during the 1920s. She broke gender norms by becoming one of the first female truck drivers in the country, and her journey paved the way for the acceptance of women in a male-dominated industry. 

Lillie Elizabeth Drennan

As the first licensed female truck driver in America, Lillie Elizabeth Drennan embarked on a journey that went beyond driving. In 1929, she founded the Drennan Truck Line, proving that women could not only navigate the open road but also manage successful trucking businesses. Nearly a century later, her entrepreneurial spirit continues to inspire women — and male — truckers who dream of owning their own fleet..

Lois Cooper

Lois Cooper wasn’t a trucker, but she was still an industry pioneer as a highway engineer. In the early 1950s, Cooper applied for a job as an engineering aide with the California Department of Architecture — and was rejected because she was a woman. The word “no” wasn’t in Cooper’s vocabulary. On her next interview, she was hired as the first Black woman hired in the engineering department of the California Department of Highways. She worked and studied and worked some more to earn her engineering license. She was involved in major California transportation projects: the I-105 Century Freeway, the San Diego Freeway, the Long Beach Freeway, the Riverside Freeway. And, in the ‘70s, she joined the Los Angeles Council of Black Engineers, eventually becoming president, and using the position to visit schools and encourage students to pursue engineering careers. So while she may not have been behind the wheel, Cooper helped shape the roads generations of truckers — male and female — drive on every day. And she probably inspired a few of those drivers, too.

Adriesue "Bitsy" Gomez

For Adriesue "Bitsy" Gomez, driving a truck was a way to even the playing field. From an early age she loved trucks, but she didn’t enter the industry until she got divorced. She took odd jobs, filled in as relief, did whatever she needed to get behind the wheel. And that’s when she experienced the pervasive, demeaning stereotypes and discrimination from male drivers. Instead of giving up, she used the hardship as fuel to help others. She founded the Coalition of Women Truck Drivers to fight sexism in the industry. Its initial mission: more female restrooms at truck stops. Gomez, who died in 2015, has become a symbol of resilience and determination in the industry, her story showcasing the ongoing efforts to break down gender barriers and foster a more inclusive environment for women truckers.

Do you know a female trucker doing great things on the road? What other pioneers and trailblazers should we celebrate? Share their stories with us, and they may be included in a future post!