Women have been driving trucks for decades, although the industry is definitely male-dominated. Slightly more than five percent of the trucking workforce are women, but that’s changing.
The current shortfall of drivers nationwide has trucking companies recruiting women as drivers. At present the industry is short about 35,000 to 40,000 drivers, with the shortfall expected to increase significantly over the next decade. Trucking companies are increasingly diversifying their recruitment efforts to attract demographics not traditionally seen as “trucker material.”
To do so, companies need to rethink their own attitudes. When your uniforms, bonus programs, and corporate attitude all target men, it’s easy for women to think they aren’t welcome in the industry—a belief that is reinforced by the popular image of the trucker as a hard-driving good ol’ boy. And yes, while they’re in the minority, there are still truckers who are very vocal that women shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
Still, with the average tractor-trailer driver earning $38,000 a year, and long-haul drivers making more, women are increasingly interested in trucking, especially as training takes much less time than preparing for other careers. And many companies are beginning to re-mold their corporate attitudes and facilities to be more inclusive.
An increase in female truckers could reverse, or at least slow, the increasing shortfall of drivers. As Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the Women in Truck Association noted in an interview with Decisiv, if the industry can attract one percent more women than it currently does, the number of drivers nationwide would increase by about 30,000—close to the number of drivers the industry needs.
Can the trucking industry change, and welcome more women in to the ranks? Voie thinks so, and with the need for drivers skyrocketing, it’s vital. An increase in women drivers could change those attitudes, leading to more people of both genders interested in pursuing trucking as a viable, proud career.