MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Canada’s third Salute to Women Behind the Wheel took place at Truck World on April 21, bringing together 41 female commercial drivers for the celebration. The group included women of all ages, with years of experience ranging from less than one year to more than 40 years. Their combined experience totaled 600 years, proving that while women drivers may be few in number they are not new to trucking.
The Salute is an initiative of Women In Trucking (WIT) to honor female drivers and recognize them for their service. WIT has hosted a Salute at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY each year since 2009. This was the second Canadian Salute to Women Behind the Wheel to be held at Truck World in Toronto. The first Salute in Eastern Canada was held last year at the Atlantic Truck Show in Moncton, NB. The Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada (OBAC) and the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, who partnered with WIT to host the Salute, hope to bring the event to truck shows in Canada on a regular basis.
A hallmark of the event is a group photo of all the women who hold commercial drivers’ licenses wearing the signature red Salute T-shirt. Salute organizer, Joanne Ritchie, also the Executive Director of OBAC, called the display an attention-getting way to illustrate women’s presence in the male-dominated trucking industry.
“Female drivers make up only a fraction of the driver population in Canada, but their numbers are growing,” she said. “The intent of the Salute is to honor the contribution of the existing drivers and to demonstrate to women outside the industry that trucking is a good career choice with abundant opportunity. It was particularly gratifying this year to see several women in the crowd with one year’s experience or less. These newcomers are the future of our industry, and we want to make feel valued and welcome.”
The Women In Trucking Association, based in Plover, Wisconsin, boasts about 4,000 members from all over the globe including about 300 Canadian members. While drivers are a major focus of the group, it represents female workers in all facets of trucking and transportation, including technicians, logistics personnel, management and admin workers.
“The women here today are very much pioneers in a field that is dominated by male drivers,” said Ellen Voie, President and CEO of Women In Trucking Association. “They are succeeding and doing great in their chosen field and we are here to celebrate their achievements and accomplishments.”
Jane Jazrawy, CEO of CarriersEdge, a leading provider of online driver training for the trucking industry and a Platinum sponsor of the Salute to Women Behind the Wheel, said the event is a great opportunity to highlight women who have chosen a non-traditional career in the trucking industry.
“I think it’s so important to have women doing non-traditional jobs,” said Jazrawy. “I began my career in the technology industry, and there were very few women in that sector at the time. I understand those challenges and I think it’s incredible to see all of you here today.”
Other sponsors of the 2018 Salute to Women Behind the Wheel are Highland Transport, the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC), SM Freight, and Sysco. The British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA) will co-host the first Western Canadian Salute at Truxpo in Abbotsford, British Columbia, on May 12, and two more events are scheduled for 2019 in Montreal and Moncton. For more information, contact Joanne Ritchie at [email protected] or (613) 237-6222.
The Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada is a not-for-profit association committed to the safety and prosperity of all professional drivers operating in Canada. We work to change negative stereotypes of truck drivers and to promote a better understanding of their issues with industry, government, and the public at large.
WIT is a nonprofit association established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.