If you weren’t aware, last month was Women’s History Month. Who would we be not to acknowledge the women who have impacted the trucking industry with huge strides? Here are three women from the past, present, and future who have either paved the way for women truckers trailing the highways, gave them a sense of community, or inspired them to take the leap into a career change.
Past: Lillie Elizabeth Drennan
Drennan became the first licensed female truck driver and trucking-firm owner in 1928. Drennan and her husband started their trucking company as a way to take advantage of an oil boom. A year later Drennan divorced her then-husband, Willard Ernest Drennan and took sole ownership of Drennan Truck Line and in the same year received her commercial truck-driver’s license.
Drennan’s accomplishments did not happen without a fight. During this time the Railroad Commission regulated motor-freight. The Railroad Commission claimed that her partial hearing loss prevented a safety concern, but the determined Drennan challenged them. Her quest was for the commission to find a man with a better record than hers on the road, and when their search came up empty she was awarded her license.
Luella Bates – First woman truck driver (1918)
Rusty Dow – First woman to drive with a full load on the Alaska Highway (1944)
Present: Ellen Voie
Voie is the founder, president and CEO of Women In Trucking, a nonprofit that encourages women to find career paths in the trucking industry. In 2018 the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC) named her the Transportation Person of the Year. Although the organization she founded is a little over a decade she has been in the trucking industry for nearly 4 decades. It all began in 1980 when she earned her diploma in Traffic and Transportation Management while working as the Transportation Manager for a steel fabricating plant in central Wisconsin.
Since then she has received a number of accolades for her work. One of those was a prestigious honor from the White House in 2012, as a Transportation Innovators Champion of Change. More recently she was listed as one of the “30 Most Innovative CEOs to Watch”.
Future: Angela Eliacostas
Recently awarded the “Influential Woman In Trucking Award”, Eliacostas is indeed a woman to pay attention to in the truck industry. She got her start in the industry as a single mother of four, working as a part-time billing clerk for BBI Trucking Company. Over time Eliacostas worked her way up and has now found herself as the founder and CEO of All Girls Transportation and Logistics (AGT).
AGT specializes in integrating transportation and logistics functions for top-tier companies around the world. The company Eliacostas launched, in 2005, is consistently ranked as a top 50 Illinois and top 1000 U.S. certified women-owned business.
The ambition she has to succeed in the trucking industry is owed to her father, a former long-haul trucker. She recalls him giving her a key piece of advice in her early career years – “this is like a vacuum. It’s going to suck you in.” Years later she states that his advice was right, “I got in it, and I just couldn’t get in enough.”
Desiree Wood – Founder of REAL Women In Trucking
Steph ‘Hammer Down’ Custance – Ice Road Trucker cast member
Take the time to honor a woman who makes what you do easier. Whether it is a significant other, a fellow hauler, or anyone who comes to your mind when you hear the term ‘impactful woman’.
The future of the trucking industry is women and it is our duty to make the path for them to enter, clear.
Cheers to impactful women all around. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.