Women in Trucking: A Change for the Better
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
As we start the new year, it is important to reflect on things that we as an industry can collectively work to improve. Something we have it mind for 2018? More women in trucking.
Can Women Combat the Driver Shortage?
According to CBS News, a new report says the trucking industry needs to hire around 90,000 new truckers each year to keep up with demand (CBS). The latest data suggests a shortfall of 50,000 drivers this year and potentially more than 174,000 drivers by 2026. While carriers are hiring steadily, they can’t find enough qualified talent and turnover is high because the job comes with too many challenges. The “Driver Shortage” has been a hot topic in trucking publications and at industry conferences for years. However, one question that is not asked enough is, “How do we recruit more female drivers to solve the capacity problem?”. Women make up 47 percent of all U.S. workers, yet only six percent of truck drivers are women (American Trucking Association). If more women worked in trucking, it would help alleviate the shortage immensely.
Why Aren’t More Women Working in the Trucking Industry?
Safety concerns, a lack of female-friendly facilities like showers and restrooms, and too much time away from home are some of the factors keeping women from joining the trucking industry. Another critical issue is that cabs in trucks are built for the typical male driver, not the typical female driver. On average, female truck drivers are six inches shorter and weigh about 28 percent less than their male counterparts. Women’s smaller and shorter build make it more difficult to reach the controls in the cab, deterring them from joining the industry (Trucks.com). Jeanette Kersten, associate professor in the College of Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, amplifies this point by saying, “Given the driver shortage and the changing demographics that the trucking industry faces, it’s important for manufacturers to make trucks more female-friendly through moderate design changes for seats, pedals and gauges” (Trucks.com). We agree.
Some companies have begun addressing these issues in creative ways. For example, most of the female truckers at Covenant Transportation Group work on two-person teams, some of which are mother-daughter pairings. This is a great way to combat both safety and work-life balance issues. Cleaner terminals, schedules that guarantee home time, and truck-stop safety initiatives are additional tactics companies are using to encourage more women to apply for driving jobs (Transport Topics).
Changes like these are paying off, as women prove to be more cautious and attentive behind the wheel. Werner Enterprises Inc. COO, Derek Leathers, stated that female drivers are outperforming males whether it is measuring accidents, inspections, or compliance issues. (Transport Topics).
Safety Spotlight: Women in Trucking Association
The Women in Trucking Association is a non-profit organization with a mission to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry (Women in Trucking). According to the president and CEO of the association, Ellen Voie, recruiting women truck drivers could potentially improve safety. Male drivers on average, have twice the number of crashes as women. “Women take fewer risks so the accidents involving women are at slower speeds,” Voie said. “There is less damage to the equipment and less loss of life” (Trucks.com). Not only will more women in trucking help solve the driver shortage issue, it will also promote safety on the roads.