This year's top Certified Transportation Professional (CTP) graduate said she believes the transportation and logistics community needs to reach out more to women to help bolster its ranks.
"As a woman, I feel I bring a different perspective to the common problems involved with moving freight," Debra Anne Stone, who graduated from the National Private Truck Council's (NPTC) program, told Fleet Owner. "At most of my meetings, though, I am usually the only woman there. That's not a surprise, either, since most of the women I know didn't go to college to work in the transportation and logistics field."
Stone, a corporate logistics operations analyst for Collegedale, TN-based McKee Foods Corp., said the transportation and logistics fields offer good career paths for women. However, the problem is that few women are made aware of the industry's potential during their college years.
"Most women join this industry only if they get connected to it through family ties or marriage," she said. "I've found most professional women love transportation. The problem is that, at the college level, that exposure isn't there, which is why so few women are in this industry."
Stone herself got involved in transportation in a roundabout way. Originally majoring in chemistry at Vanderbilt University, she found herself working at McKee first in purchasing, then moving to the transportation department six years ago. Stone has worked at McKee for over 19 years, holding positions in logistics, distribution, purchasing, and technical services.
She also credits her academic background in chemistry for her success in the logistics field -- which is why she believes women trained in non-transportation disciplines could have success in this industry.
"Chemistry taught me analytical thinking, which is valuable in both purchasing and transportation," she explains. "That skill has helped me establish my career in logistics."