Since this month is Women’s History Month, we would like to take this opportunity to mention some of the female pioneers in transportation and the contribution women make in this industry nowadays.
Transportation and mobility has been traditionally a man’s interest and men have been predominantly occupying the majority of both low skills as well as high skilled transportation jobs.
Looking at the history of women in transportation and mobility industry, we see that things have changed and women are now encouraged to build careers in transportation and mobility. The Department of Transportation published an article with detailed information on all the women that made their mark in different areas of transportation. We have selected just a few to feature in this post but encourage you to read the whole article.
From this article we found that the first woman to receive a driving license in the 1900’s was Anne Bush. The first woman to ever compete in a car race was Janet Guthrie who in 1976 participated in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR.
In 1922 another woman, Helen Schultz, becomes a pioneer of the bus transportation industry by establishing the Red Ball Transportation Company. Another pioneer, this time in aviation, Amelia Earhart, is well known for her daring attempt to fly around the globe which unfortunately ended tragically.
The first African American commercial pilot, Willa Brown, also became the first female officer in the Civil Air Patrol.
But women did not stop at flying planes, they went beyond, they went to space. The first American woman to go to space was Sally Ride; the first American woman to walk in space was Kathryn Sullivan.
Many women also had jobs in transportation administration and engineering, starting with Beverly Cover in 1962, Judith A. Carlson who worked as highway engineer, Karen M. Porter a civil engineer, to Elizabeth Dole as a secretary of DOT in 1983 and Carmen Turner Acting Director of Civil rights at the DOT.
These days, women are holding various positions in transportation and mobility, from bus drivers to planners to our current United States Secretary of Transportation. Agencies like WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar) are dedicated to the advancement of women’s careers in transportation through connecting women in Transportation, networking, and an annual conference.
While many women have careers in transportation and mobility, the industry is still male dominated.
Working for governmental agencies, private businesses, schools, universities or non-profits, careers in the transportation and mobility industry can be interesting and rewarding.
We hope this will inspire more women to choose a career in transportation. To learn more about opportunities go to http://www.dot.gov/policy-initiatives/women-and-girls/resources
This is an updated version of a post initially published on the GMTMA blog on March 27, 2015.