Being Women's History Month, it is a good time to know and remember the role that women have played in the history of logistics and transportation. As is known, logistics has always been present since the beginnings of Homo sapiens; however, it was not considered as a discipline until the term military logistics was born.
For that reason, the people who have contributed to logistics and its evolution consist of both anonymous individuals and historical figures better known for their other facets, from architects and artists to generals and military strategists. However, there have been women who have pioneered or contributed to the logistics and transportation industry who deserve recognition.
Below, we will showcase pioneering women in the logistics and transportation industry who have contributed to the development and evolution of this discipline.
Mary Walton was an inventor whose many inventions were major breakthroughs in reducing air and noise pollution from railroads in the late 19th century. In 1879, she patented a system to redirect emissions by using water tanks to trap pollutants and convey them through the sewer system.
Years later, in 1881, he managed to advance and patent an invention that was requested to Thomas Edison, who failed to get it off the ground. It consisted of wooden boxes using absorbent cotton and sand that were placed on elevated tracks to reduce noise pollution. Walton was also one of the first environmentalists.
Sarah Clark Kidder
Sarah Clark Kidder was an early leader in the logistics industry, particularly the railroad. She won an absolute majority to become president of her husband's railroad shortly after his death, the NCNGRR (Nevada Narrow Gauge Railroad) in 1901.
Under his leadership, he was able to pay off all outstanding debts and return dividends to shareholders. He also optimized the railroad route with the construction of the Bear River Bridge, the highest bridge in California at the time, which shortened the travel distance between the two ends by approximately 3 kilometers.
Luella Bates is believed to be the first female carrier in the early 20th century. Because World War I forced most male employees out of their jobs, these jobs had to be filled by more female labor, including carrier vacancies.
Bates was hired as a test driver for the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company in Clintsville, Wisconsin, and continued to work there after WWI. There she was sent on three transcontinental trips across the U.S. in various road and weather conditions to prove that FWD trucks were very easy to drive.
Lillie Elizabeth Drennan
Drennan is considered the first commercially licensed woman trucker and owner of a trucking company. In 1928 she co-founded a trucking company with her husband and later, after their divorce, continued at the helm of their company until 1952.
Durante su carrera obtuvo un historial de conducción ejemplar y ganó varios premios por su seguridad. Así demostró que las mujeres pueden ser tan buenas transportistas con licencia comercial como los hombres.
Pilar Careaga y Basabe
Careaga was the first woman train driver in Spain, causing a stir when the media reported the news in 1929. The first trip she made as a driver was from Madrid's North Station to Bilbao's North Station.
She began her career as a machinist with an internship at the age of 21 at the Compañía de los Caminos de Hierro del Norte de España. She later became the first woman to graduate in industrial engineering from the Madrid School of Industrial Engineering.
Apart from that, in 1969 she became the first woman mayor of Bilbao and served until 1975. Through her achievements and efforts, Careaga has proven to be an exemplary woman who has broken several barriers and has been a pioneer in her various careers.
West is an American mathematician whose research has contributed to the foundations of GPS. In 1956, she started working at the Center for Naval Surface Warfare and her main task was to collect information on satellites in the U.S. Navy. West led the Seasat radar project, the first satellite capable of remotely sensing oceans.
In addition, in 1986 he published a guide to improve the Seasat position calculation, which were the foundations for the invention of GPS systems in 1995. However, his important contribution was not recognized until 2017, when former commander Godfrey Weekes explained his contribution to the development of the accuracy of GPS systems.
Thanks to Gladys West, the geolocation system is nowadays massively used for private and freight transport.
There have been several women, both professionals and inventors, who have been pioneers and have contributed to the evolution of logistics and transportation. However, many of their contributions were not recognized at the time and were not recognized until decades later.
For example, Hedy Lamarr, actress and inventor from whom the name Hedylacomes from, patented a frequency hopping system in 1942, which later laid the foundations for the creation of wifi. However, her contribution as an inventor was not recognized until the 1990s.
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