Women in all aspects of business are making major strides for our current and future generations when
it comes to equality in pay they receive and positions held within the corporate structure. My unique
environment of supply chain management as well as technology, where the gender gap of both
management positions and pay is vastly large, allows me the opportunity to see this issue from an
The statistics say it all. According to ISM’s median salary data, women in the supply-chain sector earned
81 cents for every dollar that men did in 2017, with the median salary for women being $88,000,
compared to $108,000 for men. While there is a clear difference in pay, I am proud to note that
statistics are also showing a general positive movement each year to decrease the gap between men
and women for logistics, specifically. In the technology sector we are beginning to notice a difference in
the gap as well.
My History With The Supply Chain Industry
I was raised in the industry with family members (both men and women) being involved in different
aspects of supply chain management. I remember being told that even in the nineties the majority of
women in the industry were still considered “entry clerks” although they took the responsibility of
management – meaning they did not receive the proper title or a respectable pay due to the stigma of
women in business. As a young teen it was difficult to understand why this was the stigma since we
were being taught that females could do anything males could do. Entering the workforce in the early
2000s gave me a wake-up call that the stigma was alive and well and unfortunately continues today. But
this has not stopped women.
A Male Dominated Industry
A workplace that is predominately male orientated is intimidating to say the least. Many conference
tables are lined with males, so being the minority at a table to discuss industry topics does take a
certain tenacity to maintain your credibility. At times, women may also be dismissed as the assistant to
take meeting notes or as the secretary to answer the phone. If we were to sit down with the women in
business today and hear how many times they were advised not to be so forward thinking, aggressive,
sensitive to pay structure, or too soft when dealing with a particular issue we could write an entire book
of these quotes.
As women this does not mean we have to accept this as the norm from our society. It does mean
however we have to work harder than our counterparts for respect, authority and overall fairness.
Women In The Supply Chain
There are many female leaders within the industry who have been in the business for many years and
have witnessed the evolution of women in the workforce. We as females have utmost respect for those
women since we understand what they endured to achieve this goal, not only for themselves but for the
women of the future. This also applies to women that are in the field working in warehouses, container
terminals, shipping agents and all other positions that might take them out of the typical office setting.
At times we focus on the jobs within an office setting so much that we tend to forget the other positions within our industry that women are taking the lead on. It is important that we do not discredit these
positions when discussing the the gender gap.
Coincidentally I recently had a conversation about a female leader in an industrial setting. My ears
instantly perked up when I heard, “You never see a female leader on the line doing grunt work.”
Meanwhile, the woman that was being referred to was out on the line with her crew just like a man
would be, as that is a requirement for the position she holds. In this situation, the female worker was
being discredited because of her gender. In hindsight the female worker is truly an excellent leader for
her team and does any amount of work that her counterparts complete as well.
My Personal Experience In The Supply Chain
When I first joined QuestaWeb, I was the only female team member. Just like many other women in the
supply chain industry, I too had to prove myself. However, I did not take this personally as I understood
the nature of the business. My Operation Director at QuestaWeb provided me with an immense amount
of support and helped me make it over this hurdle. In fact I have had many mentors throughout my
career, both male and female, who have instilled in me that with the right attitude and persistence you
can do anything you want to do. Having the support of management within your organization is critical
to becoming successful and reaching the goals that you would like to accomplish.
I am proud to work for an organization like QuestaWeb that realizes women’s strengths, such as the
ability to adapt to the situation at hand, provide a different perspective and apply a soft understanding
tone when needed. At the end of the day, we work in a diverse industry. So it only makes sense to
diversify our company with different opinions, team work and ideas.
Moving Forward, Together
Countless amounts of time and money go into conducting studies on the gender gap. We need to utilize
this research to better structure our businesses and provide equal opportunity for all employees. We as
a society need to stop thinking that because it has been done this way for so many years that it must be
the right way. Women are pioneering their way through supply chain management and technology like
never before and should not be afraid of being a natural leader in her position. After all, just because we
raise our children to be CEO’s doesn’t mean we can’t be one either.
Brooke Helton is the Senior Account Implementation & Support Representative of QuestaWeb, Inc., a
New Jersey–based provider of web-native Global Trade Management solutions for importers, exporters,
brokers and forwarders.