Only 12.5% of all truck transportation workers are women. Less than eight percent are drivers. Despite this small percentage, there is a growing amount of organizations, advocates, events, and resources for women in the industry. We’re proud to share some of their stories.
Jill Maschmeier describes herself as a “non-traditional trucking person,” as her career in the freight industry was somewhat of an accident. After two decades in the oil business, she found herself at a crossroads. “I had to learn a new bag of tricks at 40 years old,” she recalls of her switch from being an oil buyer to becoming a safety consultant. Eighteen years later, Jill is the Director of Safety Compliance for National Carriers, Inc. in Liberal, Kansas. She’s also one of the few female directors in the entire company. “The journey’s been really fun,” she says, “although I probably would have never taken it on had I known how much work it would be!”
Tell us about yourself.
“I was a buyer for an oil company for 20 years, but the company moved and I couldn’t. A friend connected me with National Carriers, and they needed a safety consultant. It was divine intervention in a way — my skills matched exactly what they needed. I started as a compliance manager and worked my way up.”
Tell us more about your current role.
"My job consists of hiring and firing, reporting to the government on all accidents, and settling claims. I do a little of everything. It’s very fast-paced and fun. You never know what the day is going to bring. It’s like, ‘What craziness is going to happen today?’ But I’ve got a great team who supports my decisions.”
Describe what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.
"I’ve always had a ‘non-female’ role. Buying in the oil industry was not really a woman’s job. The trucking industry is similar. 20 years ago, it was pretty aggressive and male-dominated. No woman was going to tell them what to do, and they certainly weren’t going to be reprimanded by a woman. Once they understand you mean business and are just trying to do what’s right, they understand. Anyone can do the job as long as the people around them are open-minded. I hope I’ve been a decent role model for both males and females, young or old."
What do you love most about the work you do?
"I love the people and the challenge, but mostly the people. Everybody’s got a story and everybody’s got their own thing that makes them tick. And if you’ve got somebody who’s having a bad day, you never know if there’s something going on at home. You have to drill into the personalities."
What advice do you have for women who are looking to get into the industry?
"Do something you love. If driving’s your passion, get into that. If safety’s your passion, get into that. And just go into it with your eyes open. There are a lot of opportunities for women in trucking. It’s a great opportunity, and we need to get more people, whether male or female, into the industry."