During Women’s History Month we celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout the years to our society. It is a chance to reflect on the strides women made in transportation, and a chance to encourage new generations of women to choose a career in transportation.
From Harriet Quimby who was the first American woman to earn a pilot’s license to Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space in 1992, women have made their mark in a field usually dominated by men. In 1920, Olive Dennis became only the second woman to obtain a Civil Engineering degree from Cornell. That same year, she was hired by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as the engineer of service. She was the first female member of the American Railway Engineering Association. In 1939, Myrtle “Molly” Kool was America’s first registered female sea captain. Ann Davison was the first woman to cross the Atlantic solo in a sail boat in 1952. Katherine Johnson was a NASA mathematician who did the orbital trajectories of astronaut John Glenn in 1962. In 1974, Sally Murphy was the first woman to qualify as a helicopter pilot with the U.S. Army. Elizabeth Dole was the first woman to be appointed United States Secretary of Transportation in 1983 under Ronald Reagan.
We salute all of these women and encourage the next generation to make their mark with a career in transportation. New programs such as the WTS Leadership Program, offer support for women navigating a career in transportation and interested in reaching leadership positions.
A local resource, the Alan M. Vorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, is a national leader in research and development of innovative transportation policy. VTC offers resources for women interested in researching transportation issues of regional and national significance.
Organizations like the American Planning Association offer the opportunity to participate in education events, conferences, and networking events. The APA website has numerous resources for students and job seekers, a career center section, and links to local chapters. Here is the link for the APA New Jersey chapter https://njplanning.org/.
Other resources for women interested in a transportation career include: the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Center for Transportation Research, Safe Routes, Transportation Alternatives, your local transit agency, your local TMA, USDOT, NJDOT, FHA, the Center for Urban Transportation and Research at USF, and your local Bicycle and Pedestrian advisory.
If you are a woman in transportation or looking to start a career in transportation, we want to hear from you. Let us know why you choose the field, what do you like about it, or what barriers you faced.