Do you think that driving a “Big Rig” is a man’s job?
If so, you’d probably be surprised by the number of women behind the wheels of semi-trucks today, and that number is on the rise!
In 2019, Freightwaves reported that there was one woman behind the wheel for every 20 men, and 7% of drivers were women. Of the companies that track and report the gender split, these numbers represent a 19% growth over the last two years. Looking at the bigger picture, the number of female truckers rose 68% between 2010 and 2018.
This increase is excellent news for women and organizations like Women in Trucking, whose mission is to encourage gender diversity and minimize the obstacles faced by women in the trucking industry. Women in Trucking has fought hard over the last dozen years to promote career opportunities in transportation, and their efforts are working. There are now more resources available to women who want to make their living on the road than ever before.
The expectation used to be that women did not want to travel for extended periods, nor put up with the physical requirements of driving a big-rig. Today, however, attitudes have changed. Women are perfectly content to do both, as many do not have the demands of raising a family to keep them home.
Further, women are finding that drivers are well paid with opportunities to earn more with experience. As they’ve proven themselves, the industry has become more open to women. Their numbers also fill a growing shortage of drivers.
The American Trucking Association predicts a shortage of 175,000 drivers by 2024. ATA cites the reason for this being the large pool of aging drivers who will retire paired with a lack of qualified drivers filling the seats left open by their departure. The transportation industry now realizes it needs to invest in recruiting, training, and retaining drivers – including women.
Companies are also changing the routes in favor of more regional routes, allowing drivers to be home more often. This shift attracts many drivers but is especially appealing to women.
Female veterans are also finding a home behind the wheel. Fleets are beginning to actively recruit veterans – male and female – with experience for both driving and management roles. Some data is showing that female veterans are safer behind the wheel than their peers, encouraging companies to seek out these talented and experienced drivers and pay them accordingly.
WHAT WOMEN CAN EXPECT
Many women are attracted to the independence, competitive salary, and adventure of driving a big rig. Because carriers pay based on hours, mileage, and load, pay is not subjective or related to ethnicity, age, or gender. Women drivers obviously need the same certifications, starting with a CDL and working toward other certifications (double and triple, HAZMAT, Tanker) as desired.
As anyone who works in logistics and transportation knows, the road can be a lonely place, especially for female truckers. They are faced with sexism, sexual harassment, personal safety issues, and inequalities in services such as shower facilities. In spite of this, more women are joining the industry and filling shortages left by an aging and retiring workforce.
As more women become drivers, they are learning from each other how to be safe and navigate the challenges. Women in Trucking’s blog, as well as Real Women in Trucking’s blog, are fantastic resources for learning how to buy a truck, travel for weeks, staying safe, eat healthily, and much more. In many ways, women have more resources available to them as they knock down stereotypes than their male counterparts.
ATTRACTING MORE WOMEN DRIVERS
With driver shortages all but certain in the coming years, more companies and organizations are taking a proactive stance in welcoming women.
In 2014, Women in Trucking and the Girl Scouts partnered to create the Girl Scout Transportation Patch. In order to earn this designation, girls are exposed to many aspects of the transportation industry, often using the transportation of Girl Scout cookies as an example.
Fleets and trucking companies are also taking notice, motivated by their changing workforce. Female drivers admit they still face discrimination from other drivers, but add that it’s improving, and there are jobs available.
If you need help filling important logistics positions, including CDL drivers, contact Spectra360. We only focus on logistics, which means we have a robust database of people with relevant industry experience.