Truck driving has been perceived as a male-dominated industry, however, women have been breaking barriers and positively confronting stereotypes by stepping foot and increasing their representation in the trucking industry.
Over the years, women have been breaking industry barriers to entry by stepping foot into male-dominated blue-collar industries such as mechanics, engineering, construction work, and the focal point of this blog- truck driving. Despite the perceptions, backlash, and stereotypes women have come across over the years, women are increasing their representation in these male-saturated industries. In this blog, we explore the evolution, representation, as well as current and future possibilities of women in trucking.
Let's face it, gender has contributed to how different industries are perceived and has influenced the career paths of both men and women. In the past, roles were largely based on gender types: domesticated and caring roles such as nursing and childcare were perceived as roles for females, upholding feminine and maternal stereotypes. While undomesticated roles were perceived as male roles, upholding masculine and paternal stereotypes. This has led to undeniably gender-segregated careers- mechanics, construction, engineering, and even the fleet industry.
Although the fleet industry is perceived as a male profession, this segregation has not stopped women from stepping into the industry. In return, companies are demonstrating an effort to close the gender gap in the fleet industry by increasing the representation of women in the industry:
Throughout history, trucking has been a predominantly male industry but women gained entry to the industry through a good cause. In the United States, the journey began with World War II when women stepped up to fill jobs of men who were at war, one of those jobs being trucking. While numerous women contributed to the early days of female trucking- in 1918 Luella Bates became the first woman truck driver and drove for Four Wheel Drive Auto Co while men were away at war; in 1929 Lillie Elizabeth Drennan was the first licensed truck driver and trucking-firm owner in the United States, and in 1944 Rusty Dow became the first to drive a 2 237km long fully loaded truck.
Since then, women have continued to step foot into the industry. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the National Transport Institute (NTI) the average percentage of female over-the-road (OTR) drivers increased from 7.13% in 2017 to 7.89% in 2018. The survey conducted by Frightwaves further shows that women now make up over 10% of OTR drivers, an increase from the 2018 survey. Recently, the percentage of female truck drivers has risen to almost 30% increase only in a period of a year (2018 to 2019). Currently, there are more than 300 000 in the United States alone. Canada has 97,000 women in the trucking and logistics industry of which 10% are truck drivers.
There is evident growth in the representation of women in trucking, still, there is a long way to go to curb the gender imbalance. Although women make up 47% of the labour force, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) reports show that only 6% of truck drivers are women. Additionally, there are countries where women are still combating discrimination of the division of labour being unequally distributed in patrilocal families- this is a heavier barrier to entry for women located in these countries.
The above statistics verify that although women still represent the minority, the industry that was predominated by men is increasingly representing women and the number of women in the fleet industry is still on the rise. To better grasp the growth of women in trucking, let's explore how women have evolved in the industry over time and how this has impacted the industry.
Despite the aforementioned gradual growth and barriers to entry, women are working even harder, empowered more than ever before, have higher confidence and self-esteem, and are coming for the same recognition and equal representation in the trucking industry. As such, some women have moved from making their way into the industry to owning trucking companies. There are several female truck companies around the world, here are three success stories of female-owned trucking businesses:
Founded by Siphokazi Matsha in 2018, GoGirl logistics is a full-service logistics company that empowers other women in the industry through training and leadership programs and by hiring them.
President and owner of Veriha Trucking- Karen Smerchek, runs over 250 drivers with the goal to attract more millennials, including women.
In 2013, Arelis Gutierrez founded Aria Logistics with the objective to simplify transportation management.
If you are a woman reading this with a deep desire to ride in a heavy-duty powerhouse or own a fleet of them, there has never been a better time! The trucking industry is opening up for women. Although there is still work to be done in the representation, inclusion, and equality of women in the industry, women today are more empowered with resources and opportunities through social media spaces, organizations, and communities to share support, guidance, and information. There are also initiatives and programmes that strive to empower thousands of women in the fleet industry.
The trucking industry needs more women because it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to find drivers. The estimated shortage of truck drivers in the United States is 120 000 in 2022. Although this impacts shippers and carriers across the country, it opens opportunities for more female drivers. Women could be the solution to the driver shortage in the trucking industry.
Additionally, trucking is a quick career to get into, provides freedom, and has job security. There is a shared preconception that to be in the fleet industry and have a successful career, you must have a keen interest in mechanics, or be a car enthusiast but that is not true. Those attracted to the fleet industry are drawn by the experience, tasks, adventure, and adrenaline of the daily challenges that are encountered.
Keeping in mind that each profession comes with its pros and cons, being a woman in trucking is not an easy job, but can be very rewarding. According to a study conducted by Deloitte in September 2016, lack of flexible schedule (33%), unattractive income (32%), unattractive work environment for women (31%), lack of opportunities for advancement (28%), and lack of work-life balance (27%) are some of the reasons European women stay away from the automotive industry. This is however changing, there has been a path paved by women throughout history, and the learning curve is less prevalent.
The trucking industry is assumed a male profession, and with that comes the stereotypes and myths about the professional that could intimidate upcoming and existing women in trucking:
The good news is that female truckers have proven to positively confront stereotypes:
Being a minority group can be challenging. As a female truck driver, you need all the information, guidance, and support you can get. Here are 5 tips for aspiring female truckers:
Choose a diverse and inclusive company: It is important to find a happy and healthy working environment that provides equal opportunity, support, respect, benefits, and pay for both male and female workers. Make sure you choose a company that desires to diversify its staff and aligns with your needs and values.
Diversifying your fleet means having a range of age, ethnicity, gender, and more differences within your workforce. Trucking companies are shifting into diversification of the workforce. In the US 40.6% of all trucking jobs are held by minorities. Seeing the clear gender gap in the trucking industries, trucking companies should continue to strive for a healthy mixture in gender representation.
Adding a female touch to your fleet can bring a different perspective to how companies operate and engage with clients- this way, you can offer something for every taste and preference. Additionally, women can close the truck driver shortage and thus increase productivity.
To attract more women, companies need to offer a favorable working environment for them. Since truck driving is a male-dominated industry, some conditions may not be favorable for female workers.
Opportunely, technology can be used to fuel positive changes and progress in diversifying the trucking industry today by fostering better working conditions for women.
This is how Cartrack can help you attract female workers:
Cartrack provides fleet management features that can ensure that female workers are always protected and feel safe:
The further increase of representation of women in the fleet industry is dependent on fleet companies to open up opportunities for women by hiring women, training women, and providing favourable working conditions for women.
Although diversifying your fleet can empower women, reduce driver shortage and increase productivity- it needs to be managed efficiently.
Contact Cartrack for a complete fleet management platform for your transportation and logistics business needs today.