There’s a liberating sense of freedom and control when you drive truck for a living. Female truck driving can be incredibly rewarding, but it comes with its fair share of challenges as is with any male-dominated industry. Fortunately, gender isn’t part of the fine print on the job offer and unlike so many different industries today, women truck drivers receive all the same benefits men do and are paid just as much. Which is one of the greatest appeals when it comes to driving truck: the pay is based on the work not gender.
Within the next several years the trucking industry is expecting to face a devastating loss of drivers as an older workforce retires. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), it’s only a matter of time before the nation is scrambling to compensate for a shortage of 174,000 drivers by the year 2026.
Women now make up over 10 percent of over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers, an increase of almost 30 percent over the 7.89 percent seen in the Women in Trucking (WIT) Association’s 2018 survey. Women and the trucking industry can benefit by helping to fill that shortage. According to the most recent data published by the United States Department of Labor, 57% of women participate in the labor force. However, only 10% of all truck drivers are female, leaving plenty of room for women to take advantage of the opportunity ahead.
From the industry owners point of view it’s an absolute win-win situation for all. Not only do women applying for a job get an exciting, rewarding, and stable career. Fleet owners are ecstatic about replacing their retiring drivers with new younger hard working employees. Not to mention, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) found that men are 88 percent more likely to have a reckless or negligent driving conviction, 78 percent more likely to have a seat belt violation, 73 percent more likely to be convicted of running a stoplight and 70 percent more likely to be convicted of speeding 1 to 15 miles over the speed limit when compared to women.
Women have come a long way within the trucking industry, but there is still plenty of room for improvement that can be made by the trucking companies. First and foremost, safety. In a survey conducted by The Women in Trucking Association and Sawgrass Logistics, women truckers were asked on a scale of 1-10 how safe they felt while on the job. The majority vote came in at a concerning 4.4. This feeling of insecurity stems from a lack of respect and suitable conveniences. Inevitably some degree of sexual harassment and prejudice from male co-workers will and does happen. Let’s face it, the typical truck stop is a far cry from a women-friendly environment. This can be prevented in part by trucking companies seeking out and hiring more female drivers, cultivating mutual respect between men and women in the workplace, and actively trying to increase awareness and acceptance of female truck drivers.
Equipment is another big reason why female truck drivers are hesitant to join the transportation workforce. Originally, the job of a trucker was designed to fit the size and capabilities of a large man. By altering industry tools, equipment, and resources to better suit both genders.
There have been female truck drivers who have helped pave the way, earning a place in this male driven industry. A radical step forward began with Elizabeth (Lillie) McGee Drennan in the early 1900’s who blazed a trail to open the first women-owned trucking business, Drennan Truck Line. She fought through sexism and hardship to help lay the groundwork for strong women who came after.
Sherri Garner Brumbaugh inherited the family business, Garner Trucking Inc., after her father passed away. Since she’s taken the reins, Garner Trucking Inc. has grown substantially, with over a hundred trucks adding more to the fleet each year.
At the tender age of 23, Andra Rush started her own trucking company with nothing but an old van and a couple used pickup trucks. From that small foundation she built her company up to a $400 million business.
The list keeps going and for the most part these women started off in this business as drivers, working hard and earning the respect of their peers regardless of gender.
At North Central Utility we appreciate all the hard work, time, and energy women have spent. The industry is ready for more female drivers and owners, we encourage women across the U.S. to roll down their windows, crank up the tunes and go for a drive.