Trailblazers: Women in truck driving history
Most people likely see truck driving as a male-dominated industry. While it’s true that the number of male truck drivers outnumber the female drivers, women have certainly had a hand in shaping the transportation industry into what it is today. Some of these incredible women include:
Mary Fields, known as “Stagecoach Mary,” was born a slave around 1832. After the Civil War, she spent time taking in laundry, doing odd jobs, and working as a convent groundskeeper. Fields eventually made her way to Cascade, Mont. It was here that Fields, in her early 60s, got a contract from the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier. She was the second woman ever hired for this role in the United States. Fields had a team of horses and a mule named “Moses” who helped her deliver the mail. When the snow was too deep for her stagecoach, she did her route on snowshoes.
During World War I, many women had to step into jobs left vacant by men who went off to war. Luella Bates, credited with being the first female commercial truck driver, was a promotional driver and test drove Model B trucks. She was also known for being a mechanic and truck inspector.
Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan got into the business of trucking during her second marriage. She and her husband started the Drennan Truck Line, and when they divorced, Drennan became the sole owner. Although Drennan spent much of her time running her successful business, she also continued to drive trucks herself and was well known for her stellar safety record. She was also a strong voice for workplace equality.
Similarly to Bates, Mazie Lanham became a truck driver during a time of war. Lanham was the first woman hired to drive for UPS in 1943. Women UPS drivers eventually became known as “Brown Betties”.
Adriesue “Bitsy” Gomez was certainly a trailblazing woman driver. In the mid-1970s, she formed the Coalition of Women Truck Drivers to fight discrimination and harassment in the industry.
March is Women’s History Month, and so we celebrate the Marys, the Luellas and the Mazies of our industry. The Lillies who push our industry to prioritize safety while being innovative. And the Bitsys who stand up for equal opportunities and a safe workplace. At Carter Express, we’re proud to support the women on our team and all women whose careers put them behind the wheel. Thank you for your hard work and for playing a valuable role in trucking.