How an Advocacy Association Works

Associations, such as the Women In Trucking Association, who want to affect changing long embedded policies and beliefs, at times have to go about the process the long way instead of charging in like the Marines taking a hill.  This is especially true of young associations like WIT who has had to both build membership and start off trying to live up to its mission statement.  Many people do not understand this process.

Let us break it down to some scenarios that all can understand.

  1. You move into a new house.  You have a neighbor whose tree hangs over your fence and drops ripe black walnuts in their hulls onto your yard, onto your concrete driveway and your car leaving nasty black stains everywhere.  You have two choices, you can either get a chain saw out and when the neighbor is away and cut the tree down (the sledgehammer effect) or you can go over, make friends with your  new neighbor and open a dialog with them about the problems with the tree (the tack hammer effect) finding an equitable solution.  Both would solve the problem.  Which one will allow you to remain friendly with your neighbor and bring resolution to both of you and effect the greater change in a positive manner, of course, the tack effect.
  2. Your community passes an ordinance that affects you adversely.  You have three options.  First is to go to the city council’s next meeting and address the issue (tack hammer).  Second is to decide to run for city council yourself so you can make sure that the council only passes ordinances that are for the benefit of the most people (again tack hammer).  Thirdly, you can take your gun out and go shoot at the city council members…definitely sledgehammer!  Yes, that one is radical, but you get my meaning.  Of course, unless you want to sell your house and/or move or go to jail, you would use either of the tack hammer solutions.
  3. Your child goes to a new school.  He has two choices to get the other kids to work with him and get to know him so he can work on projects with them, engage in sports, and make friends.  The problem is that your child is larger than most having moved repeatedly and having had to repeat some grades.  His two choices are he can be a bully (sledgehammer) and try to get weaker kids to follow him to do the things listed above or he can just be pleasant and work with others to achieve his goals (tack hammer).  Which would you rather he does?  Of course, the tack hammer approach.


Now you can see clearly the differences in using tack hammer approaches and sledgehammer approaches.  An advocacy association must use the appropriate approach, which is usually the tack hammer way of doing things.  Going into any situation where changes are needed with a sledgehammer will not work, instead it will only cause hate and discontent with the people (corporations, government) you are trying to get to change.

WIT is not a political activist association, it is an advocacy association, and the two are very different in the way they go about effecting change.  An activist association or organization uses a sledgehammer approach more than a tack hammer approach.  Ellen Voie, WIT’s CEO/President/Founder chose the type of association from the get go that she wanted WIT to be; that of an advocacy association who would assist in changing the way women are perceived in the trucking industry and try to get obstacles removed for women to be able to advance more easily.  To do this, she knew that she would have to associate the association and herself with the corporate world of trucking and get on a friendly basis with them to affect change where it needed to start.  As you can imagine, corporations do not change rapidly or respond positively to sledgehammer tactics; you can lead them, but you cannot push them.

In this, Ellen has been highly successful and WIT has attracted many corporate members who see value in associating with WIT because both they see the need for change and they support the mission statement.  Some of those corporate members have joined WIT to solve problems they face concerning women’s issues and need help and direction in solving those problems; again, Ellen has been highly effective in working with those companies.  Ellen came out with a white paper last year available to corporate members in conjunction with JJ Keller concerning solutions to training issues for both genders.

With Ellen’s involvement in trucking issues for the last 25 years or so, both as a trucker’s wife and in working within the industry itself, Ellen founded WIT with ideas and concepts in place that she wanted to work on.  The White Paper on training, a crisis line for truckers, the Salute to the Women Behind the Wheel event, recognition of women who have achieved milestones in their careers both as drivers and in the office, increased safety for all drivers at truck stops, doing away with discrimination and sexual harassment against women in trucking and many others; Ellen had a long laundry list of things she wants to achieve. 

Rome was not built in a day and the start that Ellen has begun with WIT in the last four years will take years to complete.  Ellen Voie is positive she will achieve completing that list of tasks and any others that may arise, and she will with all of our help and assistance; bring your tack hammers though, no sledgehammers allowed.








Overcoming the Past

Many of us ladies entering or who are in the trucking industry didn’t start out at 21 as truckers. Most of us come from another career, marriages and relationships both good and bad, poverty situations and some even have suffered abuse from parents, spouses and partners. A lot of us have grown children and have had to overcome family objections to us becoming truckers, some of the objections strenuous, from our kids, parents, spouses and friends. Many of us carry a lot of internal emotional baggage with us on the road. Overcoming it can be a real chore, but is necessary to succeed.

Women who carry emotional baggage tend to get stuck in what I call ‘victim mode’. These are the women who have survived abuses or tremendously bad situations. Some may have self esteem issues due to their size or looks and cannot see their own inner beauty so because they may have had bad experiences with other’s comments, actions and attitudes, they tend to think that everyone will treat them the same way…badly.

These perpetual victims are easy to spot, they are the women who walk with their heads down, and slump shouldered, who won’t even reply when someone says ‘good morning’. They tend to dress poorly, park in isolated places and hesitate to ask for help even if they really need it.

Little do they know that they are making themselves a bigger target for more bad things to happen to them. Criminals look for these types because it is obvious that they will most likely not defend themselves and because of never looking around, they are not aware of their surroundings. Men who use women go after these types also, knowing that most of these women are desperate for love and a little affection even though it may not appear that way to a non using type of man.

Being a perpetual victim is bad for your work too. You might find it hard to accept responsibility when you do something wrong, instead blaming everyone and everything else for it. Also, because you expect everyone to treat you badly, you might allow your supervisors and clerks to take advantage of you by expecting you to run illegally, or not get you home when you ask. It may be hard for you to take pride in doing the job well.

Overcoming the baggage that we carry is hard. First you have to admit to carrying the baggage. We tend to bury those bad experiences and don’t admit there is a problem from them. It takes a lot of courage to look at one’s self honestly and objectively, but necessary. One way to do this is by making lists of all of your good points then going over it with a best friend, you will find that you have missed a lot of the good points you have. Then make a list of your bad points and again, go over it honestly with your best friend, you may find that you have fewer than you thought.

These lists will assist you in identifying areas that you need to work on…such as attitude, bad habits, choosing a partner, work ethics etc. Sounds easy does it not? It is, if you are totally honest with yourself. The lists will assist you in building some self esteem too. You will see that you are not the terrible person that some might have told you that you were and as you work on your bad points, your good point list will grow. Of course you have to accept that you will never be perfect…but you sure can improve to near it.

If we carry too much baggage and cram too much ‘stuff’ into our emotional suitcases, we put ourselves at risk of that suitcase popping open at some time. This can lead to our over stressing while doing our stressful jobs, or becoming too emotional in dealing with everyday problems. It can lead to health related issues such as heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes along with mental health issues…none of which is going to be good for you or your career as a driver.

Dealing with what has happened in the past can jump up and distract you in those wee hours of the day when you have too much time to think. Instead of keeping those incidences packed away, deal with them when you are sitting still and can feel the emotions that you have not allowed yourself to feel, accept responsibility for your part of whatever is bothering you, assign the rest to whomever else was involved, forgive yourself and them if you can, and let it go. Otherwise you will continue to be a victim and have overburdened suitcases to deal with when you least want to.

Furthermore, remember; you have chosen trucking as a career. YOU made the decision. That took courage and determination. Somewhere inside, you have strengths that may be hidden in plain site. Use that strength to overcome the past and make your whole life better, take pride in being a lady driver and know that not every woman has what it takes to do the job…that makes you special and unique.

Ya’ll be safe out there!




Happy 4th Anniversary Women In Trucking Association!

May of 2007, Ellen Voie founded the Women In Trucking Association (WIT) with a dream of making the industry better for women and all drivers.  After four years, WIT and Ellen Voie have come a long way.

With over 1600 members comprised of both drivers, carriers and others in the trucking industry, WIT has become a ‘go to’ association for people to contact for information about driver’s issues, obstacles  facing women in the trucking industry and about the increasing role of women within trucking.  Ms Voie has met with FMCSA’s Anne Ferro, DOT’s  Ray LaHood and NTSB’s Debra Hersman among others in Washington D.C. and is working with the Department of Justice on getting a crisis line in place for drivers in trouble with trainers or who have other major issues.

This year brought the second annual Salute to the Women Behind the Wheel event in Louisville KY at the Mid American Trucking Show.  NTSB Chairperson Hersman was scheduled to speak at the event and Ms Voie was implemental in Ms Hersman making the journey to Louisville by truck, some driven by WIT members.  During the event, WIT’s driver advisory committee, along with America’s Road Team met privately with Ms Hersman to talk about highway safety from the driver’s point of view.

WIT’s mission statement is “Women In Trucking was established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry”; Ms Voie is using the current interest in women’s issues to address issues faced by all drivers.  After years of work and research, Ms Voie recently completed a white paper about training protocols for WIT’s corporate members concerning abuse by some trainers of their trainees of both genders.

What is next for WIT in the future?  Under Ms Voie’s capable leadership, the sky is the limit, but be assured that she will continue taking WIT forward to put faces to the women who work in the trucking industry and to assist in any way the association can to remove obstacles facing women who want to advance within trucking.

By Sandy Long,