TORONTO — There have always been stories about difficulties that women have faced in male-dominated industries — and they no doubt exist, even today. But Angela Iannuzziello, Canada national transit market sector lead for Aecom (an engineering, environmental and construction management firm), thinks that transportation industries in particular have been more accepting.
“The stories of how bad it is are just that: stories,” she says.
Iannuzziello has worked her way up the ladder, but it wasn’t without a few nay-sayers along the way. “I was one of those individuals who said ‘Tell me I can’t do it and I’ll show you how’ and it was that motivation that kept me going through a lot of obstacles,” she says.
When she began working in the industry there weren’t specific groups to raise awareness about women in the transportation industry. Now, Iannuzziello is a member of WTS International, an organization devoted to advancing and supporting the careers of women in transportation. She is also a founder of the newly created Toronto chapter — the second chapter in Canada, and the first in a major Canadian city.
WTS International began in 1977 under the name Women’s Transportation Seminar, but as Mary Petto, director of communications for WTS points out, it is actually a misnomer.
“‘Seminar’ was incorporated into the name when the association was founded in 1977 because of gender-related limits on funding in the seventies; the association had to be positioned as an educational organization,” says Petto. “It’s actually interesting history that points to progress made on gender equality since then — fortunately — but it does not adequately reflect our mission, nor the depth and breadth of how we are working toward that mission.”
“It also implies that WTS is a women’s-only organization, which it is not,” she says. Iannuzziello also talks about many men she has convinced to join the organization, saying the benefits aren’t just for women.
The organization provides a strong network for young professionals in the transit industry.
“[WTS] becomes a forum for the transportation industry as a whole to allow younger women an opportunity to be mentored and to network, to give them the support that’s required to allow them to advance in the career and to provide them with opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities in the industry,” Iannuzziello says. “And I think the trucking industry — the transit industry — I think will really benefit overall for our customers with more women in the field.”
Iannuzziello also dispels myths about stories of difficulties women have working in male-dominated industries. “You can have a very successful career in these industries and [WTS’ purpose] is really to encourage how good, qualified women candidates can move up in the industry.”
In regard to the new Toronto chapter of WTS, as well as all women in the trucking industry, Iannuzziello offers some advice. “I think if I have one piece of advice, it would be to really encourage young women in [the trucking] industry, to seek us out and to join and participate in the events and they’ll find that there will certainly be benefits to them down the line professionally.”
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