March 8, 2021

Industry Insights: Women in trucking

In 2022, women made up approximately 13.7% of America’s over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers, an increase of more than 3% from 2019 and a substantial increase when compared to the mere 4.9% they totalled in 2008, but still a very small number in the industry.

A large part of this increase comes from the nonprofit Women in Trucking (WIT), which has played a role in advocating for women drivers, as well as women in logistics, transportation management and other roles throughout the industry. Alongside this group, we have seen senators like Tammy Baldwin, Jerry Moran, Deb Fischer and Jon Tester who sought to introduced new legislation through the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act in 2021 and, while that bill was ultimately rejected, many in positions of power continue to petition government organizations to work on building the ranks of women in the trucking industry.

So what does it look like today in the world of trucking for women? What challenges or barriers do they face in the industry? And how can we improve to create an environment where women who are willing and able to drive a truck feel welcome and ensouraged to get behind the wheel?

The current state of women in trucking

Despite increases, across the board, women remain a small percentage of the workforce at any level of transportation and logistics. Most women work in management, while just 13.7% of drivers are women, according to the transportation data from to the Women in Trucking Association Index.

From the extended hours spent away from family, to concerns of discrimination and harassment, here are plenty of reasons why fewer women seek a career in trucking. Trucking can be a dangerous job, and while the risks that male truckers face on the road apply to anyone that gets behind the wheel, women have to content with the greater risk of assualt while spending long days on the road. Likewise, many women may have concerns about facing discrimination or harassment from male coworkers or supervisors, or may have experienced such treatment in the past.

Seeing men outnumber women isn’t an unusal sight in many industries. Women make up just 30% of the manufacturing workforce, and 25% of those workin in tech. And yet despite the discrepency in the male to female workforce ratios being twice as high in trucking, those industries seem to receive significantly more attention.

For many women, issues like safety concerns, discrimination, and lack of training opportunities can put them off from seeking a career in trucking, but for many, the largest factor is simply the lack of representation. 

Luckily, we are seeing an increase in that area as more and more female truckers begin advocating for themselves and showing the world how they’ve carved out a space for themselves in the traditionally male-dominated industry. Knight Transportation is one such company who has produced a series of videos highlighting truckers. Our favorite one is with trucker Susan Hoagland and payroll director Linda Dominy. You can see below how the job of a trucker is much more than just driving, and how smart, responsible, and friendly trucking can make for a great career.

Trucking for men and women

Women in Trucking President and CEO Ellen Voie explained that women and men tend to make decisions differently. Men tend to weed out the options they don’t like and quickly make a decision to move on. While women will take time to expand on each option to discover possible hidden benefits.

These differences are complementary because it helps businesses make decisions that are diverse in order to fan out their fleet management and operator options rather than go too far down one track for too long. While the trucking industry is for anyone, there are certain ways to go about making sure everyone feels welcome.

At FreightWaves’ spring conference TransparencyWaves19, there was a panel of women who talked about The Female Factor and how it can reshape the supply chain industry, from freight management and warehouse operators, to truck drivers and port workers. “When it comes to retaining women and helping them move through the ranks, respect, flexibility, and intentionality are the key concerns,” said Allison Robinson, CEO of The Mom Project.

Women in the supply chain

Beyond who’s behind the wheel, there’s still an uneven percentage of women in other sectors of the supply chain. From transport pros working for shippers to 3PLs managing shipment logistics, there are women rising in the supply chain planning and management ranks. And that includes right here at Shipwell.

As Taryn Dietrich, Shipwell’s Manager of Carrier Success puts it:

Working in a place like Shipwell, I feel that my voice and opinions matter. Working in a male-dominated industry can be intimidating for many women but working at a company that empowers females like myself makes me feel l that I am making an impact in this industry and my experience is valued.”

Shippers want the best carriers

At the end of the day, shippers want their products in the most capable hands possible. Whether it’s a man or a woman is not important, it’s about the highest of customer satisfaction, quality service, and timely delivery.

Want to up your game in the trucking world? Get the tools a trucker needs to succeed with Shipwell. Our platform offers a transportation management system that provides integrated and centralized private Load Board access, shipment management and communication, and real-time tracking that shippers and 3PLs need. Get a demo today and unlock new potentials in the world of trucking.

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