It’s common to see more men behind the wheel of a big rig than women. But over the past years, more and more women are joining the trucking workforce and are proving themselves to be equally capable and successful as their male counterparts.
The trucking industry is one of the most significant and essential sectors in the world.
And yet, women make up only a tiny percentage of the truck driver population, with only 13% of commercial truck drivers being female. Despite the challenges and stigma surrounding women in trucking, there is a growing movement to recognize and celebrate the contributions and successes of female drivers.
Here we shed light on the achievements of women in trucking, highlighting their individual stories, challenges, and aspirations, while offering insight into what the future holds for women in this industry.
So let’s celebrate the women in trucking and their incredible abilities to keep our highways moving while breaking down gender barriers.
Women in the Trucking Industry
The trucking industry has been predominantly male for decades, but that is slowly changing.
More and more women are entering the industry as truck drivers, dispatchers, mechanics, and other roles.
These women are breaking down stereotypes and showing that gender doesn’t define a person’s ability to excel in this field.
As more companies strive to diversify their workforce, opportunities for women in the trucking industry are becoming increasingly available.
This is an important step towards gender equality in the workforce and provides women with well-paying job options in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Celebrating Women in Trucking
Celebrating women in trucking is one of the ways the industry breaks down the stereotype that women cannot handle the job.
Women bring diversity to the industry, and their skills and strengths make them valuable assets to any trucking company.
Recognizing and celebrating their contributions helps to promote gender equality and inspires other women to consider truck driving as a viable career option.
Showcasing successful women in the industry serves as a reminder that women can excel in any field they choose, and should not be limited by societal norms or gender biases.
A Historical Overview of Women in Trucking
As the industry has grown and evolved, women have played an important role in its development. In this article, we’ll take a look at the historical overview of women in trucking.
The Early Days
In the early days of trucking, women were a rare sight behind the wheel of a truck.
This was largely due to the societal norms and gender roles of the time, which dictated that women should stay home and take care of household duties.
However, there were a few trailblazing women who defied these expectations and started driving trucks.
One such woman was Luella Bates, who became the first woman to receive a commercial driver’s license in 1929.
The 1970s and 1980s
It wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that more women began entering the trucking industry.
Changes in laws and regulations made it easier for women to become truck drivers, and a growing demand for drivers created more opportunities for women.
Companies began actively recruiting women drivers, and organizations such as Women in Trucking (WIT) were formed to support and advocate for women in the industry.
Challenges for Women Truckers
Despite the progress made by women in trucking, there are still unique challenges that they face.
One of the biggest is workplace harassment, which can take many forms, from lewd comments to physical assault.
Women also face discrimination when it comes to paying and promotions, with many companies still paying female drivers less than their male counterparts.
And with long hours on the road and limited access to facilities, women truckers also face challenges when it comes to personal hygiene and safety.
Contributions of Women in Trucking
The trucking industry, a historically male-dominated field, has seen a shift in recent years as more and more women enter the industry in various roles.
While still a small minority of the total workforce, these women have made significant contributions and have helped to change the face of trucking.
Let’s take a look at some of the contributions of women in trucking:
Breaking Down Stereotypes
One of the most significant contributions of women in trucking is their ability to break down stereotypes and stigmas surrounding their presence in the industry.
Women have proven that they can excel in traditionally male-dominated fields, and their tenacity, perseverance, and skills are helping to push the industry forward and promote greater diversity.
Advocating for Safe Working Conditions
As more women enter the trucking industry, they are also advocating for safer working conditions.
Female truck drivers are pushing for better rest accommodations, stronger anti-harassment policies, and other supportive measures.
The contribution women are making in this arena is multifold, creating a safer work environment for all truckers, including men.
Highlighting the Importance of Mental Health
The isolation and long hours associated with the trucking lifestyle can be challenging for all drivers, but women, in particular, have highlighted the importance of mental health care and support.
By speaking up and sharing their experiences, they have brought much-needed attention to the mental health issues faced by truck drivers, and have called for better mental health care and support services.
Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling
Despite the industry’s traditional male dominance, women in trucking have pushed through the glass ceiling and shown that they too can succeed in leadership roles.
Women like Ellen Voie, founder of the Women In Trucking Association, have provided inspiration for other women who aspire to leadership roles in the industry.
Building Stronger Relationships Within the Industry
Women in the trucking industry have helped to build stronger relationships within the industry.
Greater diversity leads to greater collaboration and wider perspectives, and women in the trucking industry are creating new opportunities for communication and understanding across departments and roles.
Strategies for Empowering Women in Trucking
Empowering women in trucking is vital to help bridge the gender gap and promote diversity in the industry.
Some strategies to encourage and empower women in trucking are:
1. Targeted Employment Outreaches
To increase the number of women in trucking, companies, and organizations can launch targeted employment outreaches, focused on encouraging women to apply for these jobs.
Such programs can include career fairs, job postings on female-focused job websites, and advertising in women’s magazines.
2. Networking and Mentorship Programs
The trucking industry can strengthen its efforts to empower women by establishing networking opportunities and mentoring programs.
Pairing new female hires with experienced women drivers and dispatchers can provide a support system while creating a sense of community for women in the industry.
Female-only industry groups and conferences can also provide networking opportunities.
3. Flexible Work Schedules
According to a study by the National Women’s Law Center, working women are more likely to have caregiving responsibilities.
Therefore, offering flexible work schedules can provide equal opportunities for women in the workforce.
The trucking industry could explore working arrangements that offer alternate schedules to better accommodate women who are balancing work and family life.
4. Gender-Neutral Language and Communications
Gender-neutral language and communications can help reduce bias in the trucking industry.
A language that excludes women in job descriptions or promotions may prohibit diversity in the workforce.
Adopting gender-neutral language creates a more inclusive work environment, allowing women to feel welcome in the industry.
5. Safety Measures
Safety is paramount in the trucking industry, and women often report feeling unsafe due to the lack of adequate facilities such as restrooms, showers, and secure parking.
Carriers must prioritize safety measures and provide necessary amenities for all drivers, including female drivers, to feel more comfortable and secure on the job.
The Future of Women in Trucking
Despite challenges, women continue to make strides in the trucking industry.
The percentage of women in the industry has been steadily increasing over the years, with women now making up around seven percent of all truck drivers according to the to the American Trucking Association
As more women enter the industry, it’s important that steps are taken to address the challenges they face, from improving workplace conditions to tackling issues of discrimination and harassment.
While challenges still exist, the future looks bright for women in trucking, as more and more women are breaking down barriers and making their mark in this vital industry.
Read more recent posts from Canal Cartage and learn more about how we empower our female employees.