A Woman’s Work in Global Supply Chain

Recognizing Women Transportation Industry Leaders

By Casey Cooper

The saying goes, “ this is a man’s world.” For eons men have led the pack in pioneering industries such as commerce, logistics and global supply chain management. As of late, there has been a shift in the contributions of women in these principles. With entrepreneurship growing 162 percent among woman-owned businesses from 2008 to 2017, is it really a new trend, or have women been behind the scenes, pushing humanity forward the entire time?

The majority of the leading transportation providers are owned by men. However, it’s the women who are behind the front lines dotting I’s, and crossing T’s; they just don’t get the credit.

In 1920, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women were given the right to vote. In 1932, Amelia Earhart soars non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. A few decades later in 1955, Rosa Parks sparks the Civil Rights Movement. In just a short span of 30 years women made brazen strides to be seen, felt and heard.

Despite these poignant efforts, little headway was being made In logistics … or was it?

Organizations like Women in Logistics, founded by Stacy Roth, started sprout up in the late 1970s and ’80s. Although there were few collective resources for women to fellowship professionally, women still made up more than 70 percent of clerical and administration positions within major corporations. As women progressed individually, they pioneered collectively in sports, science, technology and Logistics.

Keeping in step with the new rise of the female phoenix, Elizabeth Dole became the first female U.S. Secretary of State in 1983. Known for her work with MADD, or Mothers against Drunk Driving, she helped promote the use of seatbelts and incentives for manufacturers to install airbags in new automobiles. President Regan even remarked about her personal contributions to road safety “because of your personal emphasis on transportation safety, Is now a national priority.”

Shortly after her resignation, more powerhouse women in high profile transportation positions began to emerge:

• Marion Blakey became the first female chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board after her 15-year stint as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

• Ellen Voie takes her role as president and CEO of Women in Trucking Inc., platform who’s objective is promoting the employment of women in trucking, removing obstacles and celebrating its members.

• Ann Drake founded AWESOME (Advancing Women’s Excellence in Supply chain Operations, Management). The organization provides events, scholarships, and other resources, and the supply chains most prominent organization.

Logistics is still very much an Industry where women are underrepresented. According to an article in Supply Chain Management, only 5 percent of top-level positions in Fortune 500 companies are filled by women. That percentage nearly triples in executive officer positions held by women in other industries. Women like Elizabeth, Marion, and Ellen have risen to the apex of their echelon and have reached back for others.

It’s a man’s world, but where would we be without the women?

Casey Cooper is founder of The Compass Circle. She has more than years of transportation industry experience, and in 2006 started a trucking company which, over the course of the next decade, turned one truck into a US$6 million transportation pipeline.

Cooper will participate in the Breakbulk Americas panel, “Diversity & Inclusion in Breakbulk: How to Become a Diversity Champion,” which will be held at 10:20 to 11:20 a.m., Sept. 30.