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Top Advice from Women in Trucking

While the trucking industry is typically and accurately seen as a male-dominated field, it’s just as true that women have played instrumental roles in trucking for decades. Women steer critical roles across all areas, from dispatch to accounting to CEO, with excellent results. More recently, the profile of female drivers has been rising, helping shift the default view of the American truck driver to be more inclusive and welcoming for women. 

In January, the American Trucking Association relaunched its Women In Motion program as an ATA Council to prioritize advocacy and do more to meet the needs of women in trucking. This council joins a growing list of advocacy groups focused on supporting women in the industry, including Women In Trucking and Real Women In Trucking. These groups have worked for decades to ensure women are properly considered within trucking and transportation, whether in the office or the cab. In particular, they strive to encourage more women to get their CDLs and get on the road. 

At Relay, we work with thousands of these hard-working women and are regularly impressed and inspired by their stories. This year for International Women’s Day, we asked some of them to share their thoughts on working as a woman in trucking – including their best advice for others considering a future in the industry. 

Dive into the details

Corey Fitzgerald was a basketball player at Mississippi College when she met the friend whose father would give her her first job in the trucking industry. “He needed some help, and I needed a job, so that’s how I got into trucking,” she explained. “I was at that company for 15 years.”

Today Corey is the controller at Capital City Trucking, a high-performance refrigerated carrier that delivers across the United States. That no two days are the same is one of the things she appreciates most about trucking, along with the fact that she has always felt welcomed in the industry as a woman. “For women in the office and for women to drive, it’s really a great career,” Corey explained. “I feel like the industry actually really loves women in it.”

Because there are opportunities to drive, to schedule and organize, to do management, accounting, and so much more, the trucking industry offers a variety of paths for women. Throughout Corey’s career, it’s been experience and ability that matters, not gender or background. 

“My advice would be, whatever department you’re in, to really learn trucking from the ground level up,” she said. “How the trucks move, the hours of service, all of the technology behind it. It’s really vital to know how it all operates and how to stay safe with it too. So dive into the details and get to know this business as best you can, because there really is a place for us in trucking.”

Go ahead and stand out

Angelina Twardawa was working with her brother Rafael at her dad’s trucking company while attending college, when the siblings decided to start their own company. In 2012, they got started with a single truck, and today Angie’s Transportation runs 75 trucks and 90 trailers across 49 states and Canada. 

As the young, female CEO of the Midwest’s leading carrier of dry and refrigerated goods, Angelina has become accustomed to standing out – which she says is a good thing.

“You do stand out, which can be a challenge but is definitely a benefit,” she explained. “The challenging part is that initial reaction you get from people, which can be a bit negative. People will doubt you and you might feel like you have to work twice as hard, but after they realize that you know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about, it gets easier.”

Angelina can recall attending meetings in the early days of the business, when people would automatically address her brother instead of her, even though she was CEO and it was her name on the trucks. In time, her brother noticed it too and promised to do what he could to make sure she got the respect she deserved in those situations.

“Over time, you get used to seeing those dynamics play out and figure out how to manage them in the moment,” Angelina said. “And then you stand out – and that is a positive thing. For Angie’s, the fact that I’m female, in my thirties, and spent the whole of my twenties growing this business is a unique selling point. It can be good to go ahead and stand out. You are kind of like a unicorn in this industry, which can be kind of fun.”

Bring your creativity

Donna Constant has been in and around trucks all her life, ever since early childhood, when she would finish all her chores during the week so that come Saturday morning, she could join her dad on his deliveries. With an innate sense of appreciation for the essential role of truck drivers, she always planned to be part of the business and studied ICC Law and Transportation Management at college. 

After working in an office doing safety management, Donna decided she would be more effective at her job if she had first-hand experience as a driver. “So my future husband and I ran a team for years, running a couple hundred thousand miles a year to get me education behind the wheel, under the hood, how to work on mechanics, what to do with a breakdown, how to change a tire, and so on,” Donna explained. 

She credits that time behind the wheel, getting to know the intricacies of the mechanics, the driving, and the issues that can arise while on the road, enabling her to effectively manage all manner of challenges from her office at GA Logistics. That, and the creativity and resourcefulness she thinks most women bring to the business.

“Women are very, very welcome in the trucking industry,” Donna said. “Women bring attention to detail and a lot of common sense. They can take a negative situation and turn it around quickly. They bring calmness and a resourcefulness that is so helpful – and they bring a creativity that can be just amazing, whether in the office or out there behind the wheel. I call mine ‘creative dispatch’ because I can wiggle just about anything and make it work. That kind of creativity is what keeps things moving.”