Women in Trucking

The trucking industry is “getting a lot better for women truckers”

When you think of the stereotypical trucker, what comes to mind? Answers may vary to an extent but generally speaking, you’ll think up a tough-looking man who might be rough around the edges. Perhaps a similar profile to that of a construction worker or any other profession in manual labor.

Oh, and most importantly — you’re probably picturing a man.

And rightfully so. After all, women only make up 24% of the transportation industry, with just 7-8% of truck drivers being women.

Trucking isn’t where it needs to be for women, but it’s getting better

There are a couple of reasons why women don’t get into trucking.

For starters, they’re not necessarily encouraged to enter the field; recruiters generally target men. And again, this makes sense — nearly 93% of CDL holders are men, so why would companies be targeting an empty audience?

Then there’s the issue of safety for women.

This is something that is being spearheaded by organizations like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which recently spoke on issues regarding women in trucking at the Women In Trucking Association’s Accelerate in November. Administrator Robin Hutcheson referenced findings in a federal study that surveyed over 500 truck drivers. She called these findings “disturbing and unacceptable.”

And the sad reality here is that you don’t need a study to confirm its results. Anyone who has spoken about the issue with a woman in trucking will have heard more than a handful of stories. These often range from derogatory comments to full-blown sexual assault.

It’s being addressed, but there’s still a long way to go.

Experienced women in trucking, however, do report a much safer environment than in their earlier days in the industry. Take Connie August, who spoke with Quartz, as an example. Here’s what the 49-year-old trucker said.

“From when I started to now, I have to say the whole trucking industry atmosphere has gotten much more agreeable—a lot better for women truckers”

Desiree Wood, president of Real Women in Trucking, mentioned that trucking is actually a very good option for women without a degree. She references other options for these same women, including being a stripper, bartender, or cocktail waitress. Compared to those, trucking is a promising career option, Wood says.

Trucking is a solid industry, women just have to be careful with the companies that they work with.

Truck Driver/CDL

How One Company Is Trying to Change Trucking for Women

Historically speaking, women have been underrepresented in trucking. While the lack of representation for women is slowly fading in most industries, the trucking industry continues to struggle to bring women aboard.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 7.9% of truck drivers are women — and most of those CDL-driving-women have some issues with the industry.

Because of this, companies are trying to find a way to put more women behind the wheel of a truck. One organization, in particular, that is trying to accomplish this is ATA (American Trucking Associations).

The ATA is launching a program to encourage women to join the trucking industry

The program is called Women in Motion and, according to TruckingInfo.com, is “working with coalition partners, policymakers, and business leaders, Women in Motion will work to provide a more secure work environment for women in the industry, including advocating for issues like safer truck parking, as well as greater diversity in trucking. The program will also provide support and development opportunities for women in the industry, as well as promoting trucking as a career path to women across the country.”

In reality, it’s unclear what exactly they’ll be doing. Heck, they probably don’t even know exactly what they’ll be doing. That said, every journey starts with a single step and this is a good place to hit the ground running.

Here’s what ATA President Chris Spear said about the development of the program.

The trucking industry relies on women – whether in the boardroom, as a technician, or behind the wheel – and we believe that by highlighting the many contributions the women already in trucking make, we can demonstrate what a rewarding and lucrative career path it can be for millions of others

Chris Spear

Hopefully, this sends the industry in the right direction.