Since 2010 the number of female truck drivers has increased by 68 percent. While the vast majority of drivers are men, women are often-overlooked candidates who can also excel in these roles. Companies in the trucking industry have struggled to fill open positions, and the problem continues to grow because of high turnover, retirement and increased demand for goods. In 2018, the national trucker shortage was 60,800, by 2028 they are projecting 160,000 open positions within the trucking industry.
While woman represent nearly 50 percent of the general labor force, fewer than 15 percent are truck drivers. Women have much to contribute; not only are they 20 percent less likely then men to be involved in a crash, but women take better care of equipment, are easier to train, and better with customer service and paperwork skills.
“In the past, women didn’t think about it. Women have to see other women doing it before they start thinking about it,” said Ellen Voie, President and CEO of Women in Trucking Association (WTI).
Tina Albert, co-chair of Peterbilt Women Initiative said, “we need to change women’s perception of the transportation industry to be more attractive to female candidates. Women need to know how exciting the industry is and how much pride can come from contributing to such an important sector of our industry.”
When women consider truck driving jobs, some of their concerns are around safety. These concerns include: poorly maintained vehicles, poorly lit or unsafe loading docks, and dealing with inclement weather on the job. WTI works with truck stops to help improve safety and recommend changes that could be made to improve safety. They also host self-defense workshops and work with truck manufactures to improve cab equipment by adding safety alarms and other additions for female drivers to help provide a more comfortable working environment.
As for the future of women in trucking, women are feeling more empowered to work in traditional male roles. Voie says, “A lot of women will be afraid to speak up in a male-dominated environment because they’re afraid that the men… will say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” That does happen, so you have to be able to deflect any criticism.” Women tend to only apply for jobs that they qualify for 100 percent, whereas men will apply if they fit 60 percent of the job requirements. WTI encourages women to apply for jobs and own their workplace accomplishments.
As the economy continues to grow and there is more demand for goods, hiring more female drivers is an important milestone in the trucking industry. The trucking industry knows the value of female drivers and are taking important steps to recruit.
“It’s taken a long time,” Voie says, “but finally, trucking companies are saying, we see the value in hiring women.”