Author Archives: Ellen Voie

About Ellen Voie

Ellen Voie founded Women In Trucking with the goal to promote the employment of women in this industry, remove obstacles that might keep them from succeeding, and celebrate the successes of its members.

Indians Fan takes the mound at Women In Trucking day at Progressive Field

Mark Harter has always loved trucks.    As a teenager, he was intrigued by how trucks move aerodynamically, and he set up a wind tunnel in his parent’s garage.  He entered the project in a science fair and won the Central Indiana Regional competition which took him all the way to the International Science and Engineering Fair in 1993.

When Mark turned 21, he earned his commercial driver’s license and began his career at a flatbed carrier. Later he delivered high-end cars for Horseless Carriage for many years.  In fact, he has nearly one million accident-free miles behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. Continue reading

Women In Trucking’s SiriusXM show on Road Dog Channel 146

Before satellite radio became a reality in 1990, professional drivers and anyone who traversed the country had to either listen to their cassettes (or eight tracks!) or they would be forced to change channels as the moved across the nation.  Satellite radio allowed the listener to maintain one channel for hours without losing a signal.

Sirius Satellite radio originated in Washington DC and was launched in 2001, just following the debut of XM radio in 2001. In the early years, subscribers had to choose between Sirius and XM. Most drivers seemed to prefer the trucking-related content of XM which featured hosts from America’s Trucking radio network such as bill Mack, Dave Nemo and the Truckin’ Bozo (Dale Sommers). Continue reading

Trucks ARE for girls!

Ten years ago, when I would stand in front of trucking company executives to talk about Women In Trucking (WIT), their comments were typically dispassionate.  “We don’t care if the driver is male or female,” was the usual response.   “We just want good drivers.”

I would try to make them understand that women wanted different things in a carrier as well as the industry as a whole.  Women often had the same challenges but would prioritize their significance differently.

Safety was always an issue.  Women looked for a carrier that was concerned about their personal safety on the road as well as how well they maintained the tractor and trailer.  We knew that women are more risk averse than men.  Even the World Health Organization called “masculinity” hazardous to health due to risky driving.


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A letter to our Facebook friends – Ellen Voie

Dear Facebook friends who post, like or lurk on the Women In Trucking (WIT) Association Facebook page.   Our admins are professional drivers who are just like you.  They all have full time jobs driving a truck for a living, however, they have volunteered (no, they do not get paid) to spend their time, energy and passion to keep this page as a resource, a place to network and a safe place to learn….for YOU.  Yes, you.

They spend countless hours removing profanity, attacks on other people, recruiting ads and negative comments that are not meant to be helpful.

How about giving them a day off?  What if everyone on our Facebook page actually abided by the rules that YOU agreed to when you were accepted into the group?  Let’s allow them ONE day to sit back and have some relief from the negativity and spitefulness. Continue reading

Should we promote same-gender training policies?

Imagine you are a 24-year-old female who decides to become a professional driver.  You attend a truck driving school during the day for three to six weeks.  You proudly display your newly earned commercial driver’s license to the recruiter, who promises you a great job with new equipment and a friendly dispatcher.

You then learn that you need to go out on the road with a trainer, a 58-year-old man with whom you will be sharing the cab of a truck, including the bunk area, for the coming weeks. Regardless of his clean record, his paternal demeanor or his soft smile, the thought of sharing a small space with a stranger of the opposite sex could be terrifying. Continue reading

Can we just get along?

I recently attended a conference for warehouse professionals.  I was intrigued by one of the sessions titled, “Managing Carrier Friendly Warehouses” and decided to attend.  The facilitator asked the audience how many were from the warehouse industry and how many were from the carrier side.

Apparently, I was the only person in the room interested in how these executives were working on becoming more “carrier friendly.”  I was asked to give them some ideas on how they could better accommodate drivers.

My list included a nice lounge with fresh fruit and snacks, comfortable chairs to sit in and showers and rest rooms for both men and women.  I suggested they include free wi-fi and make available a “courtesy car” if the driver wants to leave the facility while he or she is waiting for a load. Continue reading

What is the Women In Trucking Image Team?

In an effort to give more visibility to female professional drivers, the Women In Trucking (WIT) Association created an Image Team in 2015.  The Image Team was designed to allow the organization a way to use female drivers for media events, trade show representation and for ride-alongs with influential people.

The competition was friends, and more than 25 women applied to serve on the team.  Five of them were selected, based on an essay, background check, and review of their professional history and driving record.  If they were a company driver, their carrier was expected to support their involvement.

The five women were Stephanie Klang, (then) Con-way Truckload (now CFI, Inc.), Allyson Hay and Carol Nixon of Walmart Transportation, Wyzeena Heeny, Covenant Transport, and Ingrid Brown, owner-operator of Rollin’ B, LLC. Continue reading

Steering Toward Kindness – Women in Trucking

#SteeringTowardKindness

Remember the book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum?  If you’ve never read it, let me give you a few of the author’s reminders

  • Share everything
  • Play fair
  • Don’t hit people
  • Put things back where you found them
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone
  • Live a balanced life

These are actually pretty simple to understand, even for adults, and I’m guessing you were told these “rules” when you were a child.  If not, I am truly sorry if you didn’t learn these effortless ways to get along with the people around you. Continue reading

You can help drive change through your association

American Author and Management Expert Kenneth Blanchard once said, “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”

Too often we hear people complaining about their circumstances, but they don’t seem to make any effort to change the situation.  They’d just prefer to grumble and let others deal with the same issues.

How can YOU make the trucking industry a better place for all of us?  First, think about how your negative remarks invite more criticism.  Calling someone names or making harmful comments don’t help anyone.  In fact, it just puts the other person on the defensive which prompts them just to shut you out. Continue reading

What did you miss?

The Women In Trucking Association’s mission is simply to increase the percentage of women employed in transportation careers.  Whether the role is driver, technician, safety professional, engineer, manager or one of the many other positions in supply chain, our focus is to attract and retain more women at all levels.

The Accelerate! Conference and Expo brings this goal into one very educational, but motivational and fun-filled event and this year was no exception.  Although this was only our third annual conference, over 500 women and men were there to learn, network and relax.  If you missed it, here are some of the things we learned.

Our keynote speaker, Valerie Alexander, charmed and challenged the audience her insight in “How to succeed in trucking despite having female brains.”  Valerie also ended the conference with how to create happiness and engagement in the workplace.  She asked the audience to list ten positive things that might result from a negative experience, using industry examples to illustrate the case.

Admiral Robert Wray, CEO of Citadel Fleet Safety, talked about leadership and provided lessons he learned in his four decades of experience in both wartime and peace.  He challenged the audience to become more confident, but humble leaders in their organizations and provided numerous stories of action-oriented guidance from his years as a nuclear engineer in the Navy.

Former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator (FMCSA), Annette Sandberg, shared stories from her experiences as the youngest, and first female, State Patrol Chief in the US.  She encouraged the audience to maintain their sense of humor, but to establish boundaries and keep them intact without alienating others.  Ms. Sandberg currently is the Principal of TranSafe Consulting, LLC, which provides transportation, safety and security consulting services.

David Coleman, known as “The Dating Doctor TM” spoke about relationship issues at work and in social settings in his talk, “Positive People Produce.”  Coleman’s interactive presentation included a session with attendees talking about their strengths and weaknesses and using the conversation to build confidence in others and themselves.  The audience learned how their words and actions can turn relationships into a positive direction that is safe, empowering and affirming.

Returning speaker, Joel McGinley, of TranStrategy Partners spoke about how to “Elevate your Game: A message of Personal Transformation.”  McGinley gave the attendees an understanding of what holds them back from transformational growth and how to overcome these challenges.  He provided tools to empower and encourage each person to create the career they want.

Sirius/XM’s Road Dog Channel’s Freewheelin’ host, Meredith Ochs, moderated a panel of women who offered their insight into becoming successful leaders.  The three finalists for the Influential Women in Trucking Award sponsored by Freightliner participated.  Traci Crane,  Senior Manager of Fleet Services at CFI, Inc., Tana Greene, CEO and Founder of Blue Bloodhound and Daphne Jefferson, former Deputy Administrator of the FMCSA were the three finalists.  They were joined by last year’s Influential Woman in Trucking, Ramona Hood, of Genco. These four women shared their insight into how they succeeded in transportation careers and offered advice to not only believe in yourself and your professional goals, but to move beyond your comfort zone and achieve great things.  Daphne Jefferson was named this year’s Influential Woman in Trucking.

In addition to presentations that challenged and empowered the attendees, there were many panel discussions, lunchtime table topic conversations and plenty of industry-related talks ranging from driver health and wellness to ELD mandates.  The FMCSA held a Q & A session to offer the latest rulings affecting drivers. We also announced an initiative with Expediter Services to provide funding to 150 women starting businesses in trucking.

The Women In Trucking Association initiated a Best Practices Survey to better understand how carriers that employ a high percentage of female drivers attract and retain these women.  Keera Brooks of Sawgrass Logistics conducted the survey and presented the findings along with a panel of carrier executives who shared their strategies.  The attendees learned that women leave companies for different reasons than men and look for different things when choosing a carrier.  This research will be available to all corporate members of the association shortly and will be game-changing for carriers looking to hire more female drivers.

The entire conference was fast-paced, and jam-packed, but many attendees took the time to take a tour of the trucks feature new technologies from companies such as Autobon, Freightliner, Peterbilt, Volvo, and ZF.  The Women In Trucking 2014 Volvo VNL donated by Arrow Truck Sales was also on display.  This vehicle will be given away at the Salute to Women Behind the Wheel in March at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

If you missed this year’s Accelerate! Conference and Expo, be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s event to be held in Frisco (Dallas) Texas November 12-14.  For more information, visit the Women In Trucking Association website at www.womenintrucking.org.  We look forward to seeing you there!

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