Post Date - Mar 22, 2022
For Women’s History Month this March, PTI is looking back at some of the amazing women who influenced trucking and helped shape the transportation industry into what it is today.
Born around 1832 in Tennessee, Mary Fields made her mark in early commercial transportation. After the Civil War, she became a housekeeper at the Ursuline Convent in Toledo, Ohio, but eventually made her way to Cascade, Mont. Fields 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. Her dedication and reliability on the difficult and often dangerous Montana route earned her the nickname Stagecoach Mary. She worked for the postal service for eight years and retired in the early 20th century.
Texas-born trucker Benzie Ola “Rusty” Scott Dow logged a lot of firsts for women on the road. In 1934, she packed up her two-ton Chevy for a move from California to Alaska where she became the first woman truck driver in the territory, the first woman to drive trucks for Alaska’s Fort Richardson, the first woman to drive the newly constructed Alaska Highway, and the first woman to drive through the Whittier tunnel.
Luella Bates is one of two women credited with being the first female commercial truck driver. She was born in Wisconsin on October 17, 1897, but very little is known about her earliest years. We do know she began working for Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. during World War I. She was one of about 150 women hired to take over jobs that had been vacated when male employees reported for military duty. Bates was a promotional driver and test drove Model B trucks. She was also known for being a mechanic and truck inspector.
The other woman said to have been the first to receive a commercial truck driver’s license was Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan. Lillie got into the business of trucking after marrying Willard Ernest Drennan in 1917 when they started the Drennan Truck Line. To help grow the business, she began driving her own truck. After their divorce, Lillie became the sole owner but continued to drive trucks herself and was well known for her stellar safety record. Having lost much of her hearing due to contracting scarlet fever as a child, Lillie was also a hero to those suffering from disabilities.
One of the most notable trailblazers for women in trucking was Adriesue “Bitsy” Gomez. She formed the Coalition of Women Truck Drivers to fight discrimination and harassment in the industry. The group’s first mission was to raise awareness of the lack of female bathrooms at truck stops – which we’re all glad they addressed!
At PTI, we’re proud to support all the women on our team and the women whose careers put them behind the wheel. Thank you for your hard work and for playing a valuable role in trucking. If you would like more information about joining PTI, please connect with us today!