Women Take a Leading Role in an Evolving Trucker Industry
News The Women In Trucking Association’s mission is to increase the percentage of women employed in the trucking industry, including professional drivers.
Women make up half the population and over fifty percent of the labor force, but only one in twenty professional drivers on the road are female. Why aren’t women considering a career in the trucking industry?
Warren Buffett once said, “The closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its citizens, the greater the output of goods and services will be.” Women bring a different perspective to any situation and often, that view is about collaboration, sustainability and avoiding risks. These are characteristics you want to see in a professional driver.
According to the Social Issues Research Centre, women take fewer risks. They found that men have twice the number of crashes as women, and are more likely to be involved in a crash occurring on a curve, in the dark, or while passing other vehicles. Typically, accidents involving women occur at slower speeds, which results in less damage to the equipment and fewer fatalities.
The United States Institute for High Safety found that the ratio of deaths per million miles is significantly less for women than for men, even as the number of deaths from fatal crashes was reduced. In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that crashes involving female professional drivers was under three percent, while the percentage of female drivers is more than double, or nearly seven percent.
Male drivers are more likely than female drivers to report aggressive driving behaviors, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Quite simply, men are driven by testosterone and women are driven by estrogen. Testosterone encourages a focus on winning and in demonstrating power, while estrogen encourages bonding and discourages risk-taking.
The World Health Organization in 2002 reported “Masculinity” may be hazardous to health.
Additionally, trucking industry executives report that women are typically easier to train, are better with their customers, take better care of the truck and equipment, and are often better at completing the required paperwork.
Yet why are women so under-represented as professional drivers? Oftentimes, it’s the image they have of a dirty, physically demanding male-dominated environment where they aren’t wanted or valued.
The changing industry
This is not the case, and not only are carriers welcoming women with open arms (and trucks), they are starting to actively target and recruit female drivers. The American Trucking Associations reports an immediate need for nearly 50,000 drivers, and that number is growing.
But how can we encourage more women to get behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer? First, we need to make them aware of the technology that has made today’s trucks safer, cleaner and easier to operate. From power steering, power seats, power wheel dollies and automated transmissions, the job is less physically demanding than in the past.
“Trucking industry executives report that women are typically easier to train...”
The job itself has changed due to the growth of intermodal transportation and the expansion of regional, local and dedicated runs. The days of running from the East to West Coast and back again are no longer the norm. In fact, many truck-driving jobs allow a driver to be home every few days, or evening nightly. There are lots of jobs available where a parent can put the kids on the bus, head to work and possibly be home when they return.
In short, the trucking industry has changed.
In addition to the labor-saving technology in the truck, there are many ways to stay connected to the carrier and to the driver’s family. GPS tracking devices are in almost every truck, and a driver’s family could easily know where she (or he) is at any time.
Women are attracted to the trucking industry because of the pay and benefits. There is no gender difference for professional drivers, as they are paid by the mile, hour or load, and pay disparity is not an issue.
Entering the trucking industry is not difficult, either, as truck driver training facilities are nearby and waiting for potential students. Many offer financing and there are carriers that either fund the training or provide it free of charge (provided the driver stays a certain length of time.)
We need more women to become professional drivers. Not only will they make roads safer, but they will be adding to the economy and helping to truck the seventy percent of all freight moved in America.