Your Voice in Washington DC
by Ellen Voie, on Feb 8, 2022 11:08:44 AM
One of the goals of the Women In Trucking Association (WIT) board of directors is to be a resource. This not only includes providing information and data to our members, but it means sharing our mission with people who have the power to create change.
Recently, WIT has been invited to two White House events to explore ways to bring more women into the trucking industry. This is only the beginning, however, as the recently passed Infrastructure Bill included another opportunity to have a voice in Washington DC.
On December 16, I was invited to attend a listening session at the White House hosted by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, and White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. There were seventeen executives at the event, where each participant was given the opportunity to share their solutions and challenges regarding the need for professional drivers. I spoke about challenges female drivers face as well as the progress we’ve made in increasing the numbers of women in the industry.
On January 13, I was invited to a virtual roundtable discussion hosted by the Biden-Harris White House Gender Policy Council. I was able to provide a list of influential women who were included in the invitation for the one-hour event. There were about 35 women from various companies, including seven of our Image Team members. We felt it was important for professional drivers to have a voice in the conversation. There was so much interaction and the conversations continued as the session extended to ninety minutes so everyone could participate.
In the near future, the Women In Trucking Advisory Committee at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should be announced. This was introduced in a bi-partisan bill and was included in the Infrastructure legislation signed by President Biden in December. This committee will include no fewer than eight individuals representing motor carriers and trucking industry associations as well as a trucking trade school.
Another bill included in the Infrastructure legislation included an outreach program for all modes of transportation. From rail, to trucking to aviation and maritime, a more diverse and inclusive workforce is the objective. The bill outlines a public relations initiative to encourage more participation in transportation careers.
In the past, we have invited FMCSA officials on ride-alongs with our female professional drivers. In fact, we have given rides to Senators, Congressional Representatives, and numerous print and TV/radio journalists. We have invited the new FMCSA Administrator Elect, Robin Hutcheson, to go on a ride-along with one of our Image Team members and she has accepted. We will be sure to keep you apprised when the trip has been scheduled and we are confident the experience will offer her insight into the challenges our female drivers face in their careers.
As we gain influence in Washington DC, our goal is to educate, not to lobby for more regulations that affect our industry. That’s why we offer our Image Team members to do the talking and the driving as much as possible. In fact, three of our Image Team members were appointed to the new driver subcommittee under the FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, on which I have been also chosen to serve. Our drivers have a unique perspective, and we are doing everything possible to ensure their voices are heard.
We welcome YOUR comments and insight on how we can advance our mission to increase the ranks of women in trucking careers. We will carry your voice to Washington DC, whether it is through our drivers or our leadership, your insight is valuable. Thanks for allowing us to represent you.
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