FRISCO, Texas — Learning the basics of an industry and demonstrating professionalism are instrumental to excelling in a male-dominated field such as trucking, according to two managers from DISA Global Solutions.
DISA provides drug and alcohol screening services. Kristiana Tobey, a driver qualification manager, and Ashlye Jones, a business development manager, offered insight into how to be taken seriously as a woman in a male-dominated profession at the Women In Trucking Association’s annual conference Nov. 13.
Both women claimed that knowledge formed the basis of power. Tobey urged audience members to gain familiarity with all positions at a company, from driver to recruiting agent. Drawing from her previous experience as the only saleswoman at a car dealership, Jones said that taking full advantage of the job helped her grow in her industry. Jones learned as much as she could about the cars she was selling and even took them on test drives. She sold, on average, 15-20 cars a month (the average salesperson sells about eight cars a month).
DISA Global Solutions Business Development Manager Ashlye Jones by Eleanor Lamb/Transport Topics
“Knowledge is absolutely power,” Jones said. “I wasn’t just selling pretty. I was out there making sure I knew what I was talking about.”
Despite data indicating that they are safer drivers, women are scarce in the trucking industry. Women In Trucking Association reports that 7% of truck drivers are women. The American Transportation Research Institute published an analysis in late July revealing that men were 88% more likely than women to have a reckless driving conviction. Gender also bore an impact on the likelihood of crash involvement. For example, men were 20% more likely to be involved in a crash than women.
Jones encouraged women to learn from rejection, such as denied requests for raises. For example, she urged employees and supervisors to regularly meet and create professional development plans for the employee to follow.
“When you get a ‘no,’ it doesn’t mean you’re defeated. It really means that you don’t have to retreat from that,” Jones said. “Make sure you have agreement and check in with your supervisor. It holds your boss accountable and it holds you accountable.”
Tobey urged women to not allow themselves to become intimidated, even if they are the only female in a situation. She used the example of a time when her office tasked her to speak to representatives of another company at a muddy crane yard. When Tobey appeared at the yard in a three-piece suit and stilettos, the man who greeted her was surprised she was the only representative sent to talk to them.
Tobey said she calmly and professionally delivered her presentation, which resulted in a new account for her company and a job offer for her.
“Let others focus on your gender while you focus on your goals,” Tobey said.
Even though women are rare in the trucking industry, Jones and Tobey advised women to support one another rather than rival one another. They said that women can achieve more when working together.
“[You] will run into bias anywhere. You can translate that to any industry,” Jones said. “Ultimately, you don’t want to lose yourself. You don’t want to lose who you are as a person because of all the pressures that are out there. You don’t have to step over each other’s toes to get ahead.”