No shortage of choice

In Industry Comment, December 20195 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineDecember 19, 2019

New Zealand is pretty advanced as far as recognising women‘s rights goes. We were the first country to give women the vote 126 years ago, and here in 2019 we‘re on our third female prime minister, our third female governor general, and our second female chief justice. There are also rumours circulating that we could soon have our first female police commissioner. Women are represented in every occupation, often at high levels. We‘ve got an increasing number of women in the transport industry today, and there are some who have been working in the industry for many years. There was even a female transport operator in New Zealand in the early 1900s (Margaret Ivory), so it‘s not a new phenomenon. In September at the New Zealand Road Transport Industry Awards, women walked away with three of the five awards – and the runner-up in one category was also a woman. A week later I sat at the NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame dinner in Invercargill thinking how wonderful it would be if 2019 was the year we saw the first female inducted.

Photo: The Hall of Fame attracts the who‘s who of New Zealand road transport to both its roll of honour and its awards evening, but who will be the first woman inducted, and when?

The NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame was initiated in 2012 as a means to honour and applaud the outstanding contribution many individuals have made to the New Zealand road transport industry. In the eight years the event has been running, a total of 45 industry stalwarts have been inducted into the NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame. While there is no argument the inductees are all deserving of recognition, every single one of them has been male. I have it on good authority that women have been nominated, but so far none of the nominations has progressed to the induction stage. I‘m curious as to why this is so, because I find it hard to believe that in the more than 100 years since Margaret Ivory ran her own transport business in Wellington, there have been no women equally deserving of recognition. I asked a leading woman in the industry what she thought of this, and she said a good start would be positive recognition of contributions made in commercial road transport by both sexes.

“We will do this by increasing our positive image in the community and getting our message out there that we‘re an equal-opportunity career provider. Congratulations to the RTF and Teletrac Navman for this first step, but I must mention the Hall of Fame awards in Invercargill, because unfortunately they are lagging behind. Many women contribute to the award the husband/partner gets – and to their credit they sometimes attribute the award as a joint effort in their speech. I applaud the recipients doing that and also look forward to the day the judges of the Hall of Fame follow the leaders on this. Never fear – we will get there and we will mature as an industry as the acceptance of diversity travels down the latitudes of our fair nation.”

Photo: Margaret Ivory was an early pioneer of road transport in New Zealand and there have been any number of prominent females since.

I have absolutely no doubt that the women who have been recognised at the New Zealand Road Transport Industry Awards in recent years (including Jackie Carroll from Tranzliquid who won the NZ Outstanding Contribution to Health and Safety Award in 2017) will be among those recognised at the NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame in the years to come. More women who see the transport industry as a great career option will hopefully join them. But where is the recognition for the pioneers and those women who have been working in the industry for many years? I can‘t be the only one who thinks their recognition is long overdue.