It’s no secret that the trucking industry is male-dominated.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, women make up 24% of the U.S. trucking industry, and less than 7% of drivers are women. Each year there is a shortage of drivers throughout the U.S., making sense to recruit more women to the industry. These recruitment plans give women greater earning opportunities and diversify the sector, paving the way for more women to enter the trucking industry.
What roadblocks keep women from getting into the driver’s seat?
That’s a tricky question: there’s a combination of regulatory and cultural barriers keeping women out despite data showing that women are generally safer drivers, especially when compared to young men who have double the reported number of crashes as their female counterparts.
A great benefit is that women are paid the same as their male counterparts as pay is based on mileage, hours, or percentage of load rather than experience or other factors that influence salaries in corporate settings. To attract more women, some trucking companies now offer “Family Passes” so that women can bring their partners and children on the road with them. For those who prefer solo adventures, there’s no better job than trucking to give you a sense of freedom and adventure with flexible hours and the ability to travel across the country.
From a physical standpoint, the standard cab size is built for the average man - this makes it difficult for women, who tend to be smaller in stature, to sit comfortably for long hauls. Rest stops are not always the safest place for women to stop. Low lighting leaves truckers vulnerable to accidents, theft, and assault. TrüNorth Global recently introduced a feature on their mobile app to help drivers find the nearest licensed repair shop and arrange for a tow if they break down. This feature aims to increase the safety and security of drivers.
One of the most significant cultural challenges stems from women trainees often needing to share bunking rooms with men during training rather than having their own space or bunking at nearby hostels with women-only rooms.
From a regulatory standpoint, the EEOC objected to women trainees being trained by women trainers only as this results in a more extended waiting period for female recruits due to a shortage of female trainers, which was deemed discriminatory. While on the road, trainees and trainers are often in close quarters for long periods, and people may be more comfortable learning from those who have faced similar challenges to the ones they will face.
Last month, the U.S. Senate reintroduced the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act.
Initially introduced in November 2019, this bipartisan bill would establish a Women of Trucking Advisory board that provides training, education, and mentorship to women already in the industry while also recruiting more women to the trucking industry. The bill aims to increase diversity in the industry by identifying and focusing directly on issues, such as safety and standard cab size, that disproportionately affect women in the industry.
Ellen Voie, WiT’s president and CEO, has expressed a belief that the advisory board would help increase opportunities for women in various occupations within the trucking industry, including drivers, technicians, company owners, trainers, and more.
The legislation also requires the FMCSA Administrator to submit a report to Congress on the Advisory Board’s findings and recommendations. The Advisory Board will identify trends that affect women’s decisions to pursue careers in trucking – including taking an intersectional approach to their analysis; identifying which companies, nonprofits, and associations should coordinate to enhance opportunities for women in trucking.
Increasing diversity within the trucking industry is key to unlocking more opportunities for women, reducing the trucker shortage in the U.S., and improving safety for all truckers. Life on the road is an adventure that anyone should be safe going on. While on the road, it’s easy to find freight to keep you moving using digital brokerages. Xpress Technologies offers freight all over the U.S. - meaning it’s easier than ever to plan your journey and reduce deadhead.