Panel Says Women Remain Underrepresented at All Levels in Trucking

Author Margo Oge by Eric Miller/Transport Topics
DALLAS — Women are still greatly underrepresented in the trucking industry, and those who are employed still face challenges balancing work and home life, according to a panel of female executives.

They also tend to be the sole representative of their gender in the board room, Margo Oge, former director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, told a group of mostly women attending a session at the ACT Expo here May 4.

“My biggest challenge was not really political as much as it was loneliness,” Oge said. “It was very rare for me to meet other women at my level. About 99.9% of the people I dealt with were men.”

Lynn Lyon, director of the Texas Clean Transportation Triangle, said last year she was invited to an event that included shooting clay pigeons — and the men assumed she would be interested.

“I tried not to show that I’m a woman so I go take private lessons and invest my own money two weeks in advance so I didn’t look like an idiot,” Lyon said. “The truth of the matter was that I didn’t want to shoot clay pigeons, but I smiled.”

Ellen Voie, CEO of Women in Trucking, said that male industry executives too often are not sensitive to female truck driver issues that range from being able to reach the pedals to feeling safe in the cab when parked at truck stops.

“And, can we have shirts that aren’t men’s?” Voie said. 

Many women in the industry still have concerns that they’re not spending enough time with their children due to pressures to spend long days at work, Voie said.

“Debbie Hersman, former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, one time said there’s a point on her way home when she’s feeling guilty about leaving work early and that she gets feeling guilty about getting home to her children late,” Voie said.

Marti Ferranto, CEO of WTS International, an organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the advancement of women, said for trucking to survive, the industry will need to hire more women to fill management and truck driving positions.

“Until we pay attention to attracting, retaining and advancing women to the highest levels, we will not meet the goals that this industry needs to meet as it pertains to environment and transportation,” Ferranto said.