Women In Trucking: Conference highlights gender diversity

More than 350 executives in the North American transportation industry attended Women In Trucking’s 2015 Accelerate! Conference & Expo recently. According to Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the Women In Trucking (WIT) Association, the goal of the event was to bring together the industry for solid education and networking – all with the common goal of encouraging the employment of women in the trucking industry.

“Our goal this year, since it was our first conference, was to have at least 200 attendees,” Voie told Fleet Owner. “We were thrilled that over 350 women and men took a chance and attended the 2015 inaugural event.  Based on the feedback we have received already, we anticipate a much larger conference with more emphasis on driver issues while continuing to provide speakers who will promote our mission to propel more women into career opportunities.” 

The conference opened with professional race car driver, Jennifer Jo Cobb, who shared her challenges and successes as NASCAR’s only female owner-driver in the series. Debbie Gardner of the Survive Institute gave a powerful message to encourage and empower women, the association said. Nagin Cox shared her experience as a member of NASA’s Mars Curiosity mission. David Coleman also known as “the Dating Doctor,” stressed the importance of professional and personal relationships in the transportation industry.

Numerous speakers and panel discussions filled out the two day event, with closing remarks by Deputy FMCSA Administrator Daphne Jefferson. She shared her experiences from a two-day ride-along with female professional drivers, arranged by WIT. The event also featured more than 60 exhibitors and sponsors as part of an exhibition.

“We were truly overwhelmed by the energy and passion shared by the women and men who attended our conference,” said Voie. “Our goal was to bring a diverse line up of speakers to a diverse group of attendees who have one thing in common; to increase the percentage of women employed in the trucking industry. I believe we exceeded their expectations for our first event.”

Voie founded the non-profit organization in 2007 and said she plans to make the conference an annual event.

Mary Aufdemberg, chair of the Women In Trucking board of directors and director of product marketing at Freightliner Trucks, also attended the event.

“The Women in Trucking inaugural Accelerate! Conference focused on cultivating the talent we already have, and developing ideas on how to draw more diverse talent into trucking careers,” she said. “The uniquely positioned conference – which created dialogue on a wide range of topics from building relationships to leading organizations, from safety skills to recruiting – ensured attendees left inspired with fresh ideas and ready to sign up for next year.”

A social event at the conference included a southwestern theme and line dancing lessons, and raised $2,000 for the WIT Scholarship Foundation.

Mindshare Strategies, a management and marketing firm specializing in transportation and logistics, acted as conference planners, according to Voie. MindShare is already beginning to plan for the 2016 conference, and can be reached at 615-696-1870 for more information about next year’s event.

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