Meet the “gear-jamming gals” of the past who paved the way for female truck drivers

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we are looking back at some of the important female pioneers that have been recognized for their remarkable contributions to the trucking industry.

Throughout the month of March, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has featured a group of female truckers on their Facebook page, sharing their personal stories and triumphs. From company owners to industry-changing leaders, these hard-working women are all known for their historic mark on the trucking world.

Take a look at some of their individual stories below.

Lillie Elizabeth Drennan

Lillie made transportation history as the first woman to receive a commercial truck-driver’s license in Texas.  She was one of the first women, if not the very first woman, to obtain this type of license in the country. Lillie also was the sole owner of Drennan Truck Line, which she grew into a prosperous company.

“I know what it is to wade in mud above my boot tops to get my trucks through to their destination; I know what it is to sit behind the steering wheel of any truck for 48 hours without rest or sleep; I know what it is to have my truck break down on a lonely stretch on one of these cold Texas nights,” Lillie told San Antonio Traffic Club at a meeting. “I am no desk trucker.”

 

Celebrating Women’s History Month. Lillie Elizabeth Drennan (1897-1974) was Texas’ first female licensed truck driver…

Posted by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Sunday, March 28, 2021

Adriesue “Bitsy” Gomez

As a headstrong industry-changer, Bitsy spent much of her trucking career working to raise public awareness of hiring discrimination, inequality and sexual misconduct in the industry. She was the founder of the Coalition of Women Truck Drivers and worked alongside its members to break down discriminatory barriers.

“A good truck is to a woman what a man ought to be,” Gomez told Time magazine in April 1976. “Big and Strong and takes you where you want to go. When a woman gets into a semi, it makes up for all the crap women take in our society.”

Celebrating Women’s History Month: An April 1976 Time magazine article described Adriesue “Bitsy” Gomez (1943-2015) as a…

Posted by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Priscilla Taylor

Priscilla served in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps as a female truck driver.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Priscilla Taylor, an African American woman truck driver serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), Fort Huachuca, Arizona, January 1943.

Posted by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Sunday, March 14, 2021

“Rusty” Dow

Benzie Ola “Rusty” Scott became the first woman to drive the full length of the Alaska Military Highway and return with a load of cargo. She completed the trek alone in seven days and had no speedometer or gas gauge during the trip.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Rusty Dow was a truck driver for the U.S. Army Engineers/Alaska Defense Command…

Posted by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Luella Bates

Luella is believed to be one of the first licensed woman truck drivers and was the first of six females employed by the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co.

Luella was a test driver for the company during World War I and completed three transcontinental tours throughout the United States after the war to advertise the FWD truck.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Luella Bates began working as a test driver for the Four Wheel Drive (FWD) Auto…

Posted by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Entering the trucking profession can bring opportunities as well as hurdles for women coming into what has traditionally been a male-dominated field. These pioneers of the past are an inspiration to the trucking industry and encourage continued progress.