I posted an article (post) a couple of months ago titled Women in Trucking are they for real? First off let me say, I have never claimed to be a writer or a journalist, but I do like to try to do it. But, I made a big mistake in writing when I wrote that article (post). I used third party information from a certain person, who I must say is not a very reliable source for information. I did not follow up about this information, but instead went ahead and used it, thinking it was quality information. I want to publicly apologize to Ellen Voie for writing that post, I hope this one is more appropriate.
So, I have decided to try and redeem myself. I am going to do another post about Women in Trucking, and let me tell you they ARE for real. I decided this time to do the right thing and go directly to the source. I emailed the President/CEO Ellen Voie, and requested to do a email interview with her (I am not much of a phone person) and she agreed. I must say, I have learned quite a bit about the organization she operates and let me say this, if anyone thinks for a second that she (Ellen Voie) is not qualified to be the leader of this organization, then they are mistaken.
From visiting the site I have learned quite a bit about the history, that has changed for the better about women in trucking. Used to be the only women you seen hanging around a truck stop were prostitutes. But, this has changed and now we are learning that women are evenly and sometimes even more qualified to be in the trucking industry than men. There is a page on the WIT (Women in Trucking) website, its called “Who we are”, and it gives a description of each board member at WIT. Let me say some of these women, by reading their bio’s have had it tough trying to work their way up in the ranks in the trucking industry. From reading the bio’s they are more than qualified to give information to anyone men or women, wanting a career in the trucking industry.
Q: First off, could you tell us who is Ellen Voie, also what qualifies you to lead an organization like WIT, other than being a woman?
A: Jason, I started my career in the trucking industry in 1979 when I was the Assistant Traffic Manager at a steel fabricating plant. I completed my diploma in Traffic and Transportation Management and became the Traffic Manager where I was responsible for all inbound raw materials (steel tubing,coil,bar stock, etc) and shipped the completed products out to our customers (steel racks,pallets, etc. We used truckload, LTL, air freight and our own fleet to deliver the product to our customers.
I got married and started my family and became a consultant to motor carriers in Wisconsin., I licensed and permitted the trucks and kept the drivers legal (qualification files, drug tests, etc.) My former husband and I owned three trucks and he drove one so my job was to manage the small fleet (payroll, maintenance, etc.) At that time I had a chauffeur’s license and drove on occasion to pick up a tractor at the shop or dealership. I never drove the truck with a trailer on it.
For 16 years I had my free lance consulting business, and during that time I completed my bachelor’s degree (Communication-Journalism) and my Master’s Degree (Communication.) I completed my graduate research on “The Diverse Identities of Women Married to Professional Drivers.” I don’t believe that my gender qualifies me to lead Women In Trucking. It is my passion. My entire career has focused on the trucking industry and I have spent the last two decades trying to make a difference for drivers. You can see my profile at Womenintrucking.org (click on “who are we” and my biography is near the bottom.) Nearly as important in my background is my certification as a “Certified Association Executive.” (CAE) This means that I have completed the training to lead an association.
This is a very extensive process where I had to demonstrate proficiency in everything from fundraising, to managing a board of directions, anti-trust laws, lobbying rules and dues structures. I am qualified to lead any association due to this training. Jason, since I started Women In Trucking and am the founder,I am the most appropriate person to lead it. It is not easy to start a nonprofit and the first thing I had to do was to write a mission statement,create by-laws, put together a board of directors and hire staff. If anyone thinks that I am “making money off drivers” they are sadly mistaken.
Q: Who qualifies to join WIT?
A: Anyone who believes in our mission is qualified to join. We have women and men, drivers and nondrivers,
US citizens and members in Australia (and other countries). Our mission is stated below and is simply to create a better environment for women, which means that everything we do benefits men also.
Q: Could you tells the readers about when you were the President of the Trucker Buddy program?
A: In 2000 I was hired by Trucker Buddy International as their Executive Director, a position I held for six years. During my tenure (2000-2006) at Trucker Buddy it grew to be an internationally recognized charity and I still have a passion for the program and the drivers who share their experiences from the road. It was during these years that I obtained my CAE credentials so that I could be the best Executive Director possible.
Q: I know that you are an avid writer. Could you tell us some of the places you have written articles for, or that you are still writing for?
A: My BA was in Communication with a journalism emphasis. I had my first article published in Overdrive about 20 years ago. I had a regular column in Land Line Magazine for about seven years, and I wrote for Big Rig Owner Magazine and Driving Force Magazine for over ten years until they were purchased by Randall Reilly last year. I currently have columns in Logistics Quarterly, Driving Force, Careers In Gear, Team Drivers/Women In Trucking, Rear View Mirror, and I have a blog on BigTruckTV.com. My first book was “Marriage In the Long Run,” and since then I have written
“Crushing Cones,” which is a book to help potential drivers understand what to expect when they attend driver training (how to choose a school, etc.) and more recently I have completed a driver workbook for carriers to give their drivers to take home for their families (www.familiesintrucking.com). This is in addition to my thesis, “The Diverse Identities of Women Married to Professional Drivers.”
Q: Where do you see WIT in say 5 or 10 years down the road? Or just in the future in general?
A: My goal is to make Women In Trucking Association the organization that helps women prepare for a career in trucking (not just as drivers, but in safety, technicians, leadership,.etc) We need more women in this male dominated industry. I am also working on a white paper to share with carriers on how to ensure that their driver trainers treat their students with respect when there is a gender difference (could include male student, female trainer.) I have gathered the policies of major carriers and am working with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to develop these best practices. We are also working on the “Salute to the Women Behind the Wheel” to honor the women drivers in the industry (regardless of whether they are a member of not.)
We have also developed the “sleep safe strap” which secures the inside of the cab so intruders can not gain entry while the driver sleeps. I would like to see us be a resource for women to succeed in the trucking industry. We are also working on setting up a foundation to provide scholarships for drivers,technicians,management and safety directors. One other goal is to work with truck stops to make them more driver friendly (better security, more amenities-especially for women such as clothing and personal care products.) We were working with NATSO, but they are experiencing some staff challenges at this time. We also work with carriers to review their facilities, their advertising and their culture to ensure that women have a level playing field. We are not looking for special treatment and we expect our members to be able to fulfill the duties of their job. We are a nonprofit and our goal is to serve our members. At some point in the future I would also like to help influence legislation,but right now our resources are limited.
Q: Tell us a little about the book that you wrote, while attending truck driving school and how one can get it?
A: “Crushing Cones”you can order it on our website. Part of the proceeds of each book go to Women In Trucking. The reason I wrote the book was because we would get calls from potential drivers who didn’t know what questions to ask, didn’t understand the different types of schools and didn’t know how to get funds. The book covers all that,as well as my experience as a student and my testing experience. We also have information from Freightliner to help the student prepare for the shifting challenges. The entire written and practical test is in my book so the reader will know exactly what is expected of them when and if they choose to attend CDL training.
Q: In you’re career in the trucking industry, what is the most memorable event?
A: Jason, my goal for the first year of Women In Trucking was to get 1,000 members. We reached that goal. I was ecstatic! After the second year were are at about 1300 members but growing. We have partnered with Walmart and Frito-Lay who have stepped up as sponsors at a higher level. Otherwise, the1300 members include students, drivers, associate members, truck driver training schools, nonprofits, media, carriers and industry suppliers. (Schneider is a member, Con-Way, US Xpress, UPS, Freightliner, Walmart, Frito-Lay, Navistar and more. You can see our member list on our website.)
Thanks Ellen for taking the time to answer a few questions. If you would like to add anything, then you can do so now.
Feel free to ask me for any additional information. Look at our website and let me know if you would like clarification. I also hope that you will become a member of Women In Trucking!
Again, thank you Ellen Voie, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some question’s. I do hope that the organization keeps growing and you all succeed in all venues that you partake of. You can visit and register at Women in Trucking you will be glad you did it.
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