Honoring this year's women leaders in transportation

July 14, 2020
This year, FleetOwner recognizes 12 women who not only hold the industry in the highest regard, but who promote safety and actively work to recruit more talent into trucking’s ranks.

Since 2016, FleetOwner has worked to recognize and honor the women who are helping to shape the trucking industry by profiling some of the many outstanding women in trucking. The 12 women chosen for 2020 offer excellent examples of just how varied career opportunities for women can be in an industry that has been historically male dominated.

Selecting this year’s list was difficult, as there are so many incredible women in the transportation industry to highlight. For this year’s listFleetOwner editors, with help from Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the Women in Trucking Association (WIT), selected women from a diverse pool of trucking’s ranks. We spoke with drivers, engineers, a technician, finance experts, and executives from state trucking associations who not only hold the industry in the highest regard but are promoting safety and actively working to recruit more talented people into trucking. 

This year's Women in Transportation are: 

Since Voie started WIT 15 years ago, she noticed that the industry has been moving in the right direction when it comes to seeing women in more prominent roles. However, there is more work to be done.  

“We started a Women In Trucking index, and we started tracking how many female drivers, technicians, and women are in leadership, and it’s still only about 25% of women in leadership,” Voie said. “Of the publicly traded companies, half have no women in leadership. We think that’s just wrong.” 

Voie did point out, however, that more women are taking over trucking businesses from their fathers. Roughly 15 to 20 years ago, that wouldn’t have been a consideration, she said. “Every large carrier out there started with a man and a truck. Our goal is to see more women starting their own trucking companies and being more visible,” she added.  

As more women are recognized across the industry, Voie said trucking companies are realizing that women bring different perspectives to the boardroom, the office, and the road. 

“I am seeing more companies that are celebrating their women drivers and their women leaders,” she explained. “I am seeing more women as drivers of the month. I am seeing more women competing at the state truck driving championships. We had our first-ever female solo driver of the year.”   

Over the last 15 years, Voie has been pushing to convince the industry that women are safer drivers. In fact, the American Transportation Research Institute found that men were 20% more likely to be involved in a crash in every statistically significant area, noted Voie.  

“If we don’t tell their stories, then other women don’t know that they can do this job and that they are welcome in this industry,” she said. “Telling their stories is a great way to let other people know that there are great jobs in transportation.”   

In Memoriam 

Unfortunately, however, one of the saddest stories coming out of the industry this year was the unexpected death of Laura McMillan, vice president of training development for Instructional Technologies Inc. (ITI). FleetOwner profiled McMillan in 2018 as one of the top women in transportation. 

McMillan held a bachelor's degree in business management and a master's degree in instructional system design and adult learning. She also had an active CDL and more than 20 years of experience in transportation, and she earned her Certified Transportation Professional accreditation from the National Private Truck Council (NPTC). Her many speaking engagements at industry conferences, published articles, and ability to solve problems made her one of the most recognized training people in the industry.  

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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