By Ellen Voie
Sixteen years ago, when Women In Trucking Association was formed, the response from the trucking industry was positive. They were more interested in using an untapped resource (women) to fill seats (both board seats and truck seats) than hiring women in particular but increasing the ranks of women was a welcome solution. The typical comment from carriers was that they just hired the best person, regardless of gender, age or ethnicity.
However, they weren’t as sensitive to how the trucking industry environment didn’t embrace the challenges women faced when they tried to fit into a male populated workplace. In the past, trucks were designed for men, showers and truck stop facilities were designed for men, and even the uniforms were meant to fit men.
Women were eager to adapt to the workforce and wore the men’s shirts, asked a friend to monitor the shower and used pillows on the seat in order to see over the dash in the truck. Without power steering or power brakes, the job was strenuous, but women were up to the challenge.
Some of the women who entered the trucking industry decades ago were tough and deflected any harassment from their male counterparts. These women worked hard to fit in and to not receive any attention for being a woman in trucking. In fact, their goal was to do their job and to not be noticed.
Some of them have turned into Queen Bees. They clearly do not support or accept the women who are entering the industry today. In fact, they are resentful of the changes this generation has worked for to make trucking a more gender diverse industry.
For example, one of our Image Team members was advocating for healthier food options at truck stops and convenience stores. Some of the more seasoned female drivers gave her a hard time for being concerned with something they felt was insignificant. However, if our drivers (both men and women) want healthier food choices, then they should feel free to voice their opinion.
So, what is a Queen Bee and why are they detrimental to the trucking industry? According to Wikipedia, a Queen Bee is, “a derogatory term applied to women who have achieved success in traditionally male-dominated fields. These women often take on “masculine” traits and distance themselves from other women in the workplace to succeed. They may also view or treat subordinates more critically if they are female and refuse to help other women rise up the ranks as a form of self-preservation.”
Why is this important to the trucking industry? When we approach seasoned drivers and ask them to consider joining the Women In Trucking Association, the response I get from these women is typically, “You weren’t here for me when I started in this industry, why should I support you?”
My response is always to acknowledge their contribution to the industry and to ask them to share their wisdom with the women entering the industry for the first time. This usually works, as they want to be acknowledged for their efforts.
The take-away is that we need to honor and elevate the women who have been in the trucking industry for decades. They were trailblazers and should be recognized for their efforts. As more women enter the trucking industry it will change and the pioneers who paved the way for today’s female drivers should be thanked and appreciated.
To all of the Queen Bees in the trucking industry, we are grateful and ask for your insight in making the environment better for the next generation of female drivers.