Mutha Trucker

The Future Looks Bright for Women in Trucking: From 6% to 60% by 2030?

Table of Contents

The trucking industry is facing a growing shortage of drivers at a time when the demand for freight transportation is increasing. According to the American Trucking Associations, the industry was short roughly 80,000 drivers in 2021 which is expected to grow to 160,000 by 2030.

While truck driving has traditionally been a male-dominated occupation, women make up only around 6% of all truck drivers in the U.S. based on 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The percentage of female truck drivers has increased slightly in recent years but remains very low compared to many other industries.

To help offset the driver shortage, trucking companies, and industry groups are actively looking to bring more women into trucking roles. However, recruiting and retaining female mutha trucker requires addressing barriers such as safety concerns, work/life balance challenges, and the lack of facilities and equipment designed for women. With better training, support, and inclusive policies, trucking can become a more welcoming and viable career path for women.

History of Women in Trucking

While truck driving has traditionally been a male-dominated occupation, women have played important roles throughout the history of the trucking industry. Women first entered trucking out of necessity during World War I when many men were serving in the military. The first documented female truck driver was Lillie McGee, who hauled freight in Wisconsin in 1916.

During World War II, thousands of women stepped up to keep commerce flowing by ferrying goods and materials across the country. The iconic “Rosie the Riveter” symbolized the mobilization of female workers. After the war, many women continued trucking careers well into the 1950s and 60s.

By 1970, women made up just 1% of all truck drivers in the U.S. The percentage increased slowly over subsequent decades. Today, women account for about 10% of the nation’s 3.5 million truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Association. While still underrepresented, more women are entering trucking careers now than ever before.

Challenges Facing Women

Despite recent progress, women still face considerable challenges entering and working in the trucking industry today. Trucking remains a heavily male-dominated field, with women making up only about 6% of all truck drivers according to the American Trucking Association This engrained male culture often makes it difficult for women to feel welcomed and accepted.

Safety is also a major concern, as many truck stops and rest areas lack adequate lighting, security, and separate facilities for women. Long hours on the road in isolated conditions can leave female drivers feeling vulnerable. Trucking companies need to do more to improve safety and provide amenities tailored to women’s needs.

In addition, the demanding schedule of long-haul trucking poses challenges for work-life balance and starting a family. Being away from home for extended periods can take a toll. Some women report experiencing loneliness and isolation working in an industry with few other female drivers. More support is needed in areas like childcare and flexible scheduling to better accommodate women truckers.

How Trucking Companies Can Attract and Support Women

There are several key ways trucking companies can make their workplaces more appealing and inclusive for female drivers:

First, providing better training, onboarding, and mentorship programs geared toward women can help them feel more supported entering the industry (Transforce, 2022). Assigning a veteran female driver as a mentor can give women confidence and the ability to ask questions in a safe environment.

Second, having facilities and equipment designed for women makes a big difference. Things like adding locks to bathroom doors in terminals, providing private shower facilities, and offering properly fitted uniforms and gear show that companies care about their needs.

Third, giving women more flexible work options helps retain female drivers in the long term. Things like team driving, part-time schedules, defined home time, and job sharing allow for a better work-life balance.

Finally, companies should highlight the success stories of their current female drivers. Promoting these role models helps dispel stereotypes and shows other women there is a place for them in trucking (Centerline Drivers, 2021).

Pros of Trucking for Women

Several pros attract women to professional truck driving careers. Financially, the earning potential is high, with the average truck driver’s salary ranging from $45,000 to over $70,000 annually (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Truck driving provides financial independence and economic security that many women find empowering.

The adventurous, open-road lifestyle is also a major perk for women truckers. The ever-changing scenery and freedom of the open highway provide exhilarating work conditions that many women find liberating. Truck driving allows women to travel, meet new people, see new places, and gain life experiences they may not otherwise have access to in other careers.

Additionally, the high demand for truck drivers means excellent job stability and abundant opportunities for women entering the field. With the trucking industry facing a growing driver shortage, female drivers are eagerly recruited and hired. Women have the chance to launch stable, recession-proof careers with ample options to switch companies or routes.

Cons of Trucking for Women

While truck driving offers many benefits, there are also some significant drawbacks and challenges that women should consider before entering the profession.

One major downside is the amount of time spent away from home. Long-haul truckers in particular can be on the road for weeks or months at a time, which can take a toll on family relationships (1). The isolation and loneliness of being away from loved ones for extended periods is something many female drivers struggle with.

In addition, women face risks of harassment and discrimination as they remain a minority in a male-dominated industry. Safety is also a concern, as drivers often have to park at truck stops that may be unsafe. Lack of facilities and poor conditions at some stops also impact women disproportionately.

The health impacts and physical demands of driving long hours and sitting for extended periods also cannot be overlooked. Back pain, weight gain, and fatigue are common complaints. Truck cabs are often designed without women’s needs in mind. The work can take a physical toll, especially for women who may be petite or have pre-existing conditions.

While trucking offers the lure of freedom and good pay, women considering this path should thoughtfully weigh the sacrifices and challenges involved, especially time away from family.

Networks & Resources for Female Truckers

There are a growing number of organizations and networks aimed at supporting women truck drivers and helping more women enter the field. One of the leading groups is the Women in Trucking Association, founded in 2007 to “encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry.” The association provides scholarships, mentoring programs, and training camps to help prepare women to be professional drivers.

Many trucking companies and organizations also offer training programs and scholarships specifically for women, such as the Women in Trucking Scholarship Fund and the ATA’s Women’s Leadership Program. These initiatives help women cover the costs of getting a CDL license and obtaining further certifications.

In addition to formal associations, female truckers connect through online forums and social media groups like the Girl Trucker Community on Facebook, Lady Truck Drivers on Reddit, and Heart of a Trucker’s online forum. These provide a space for women to share advice, connect, and find support from fellow drivers.

Advice from Veteran Drivers

Female truckers who have been on the road for years have plenty of wisdom to impart to women just entering the industry. Here are some anecdotes and tips from veteran drivers:

“My advice is don’t let anyone discourage you from becoming a truck driver if that’s what you really want to do. There will always be people that say you can’t handle it cause you’re a female. Prove them wrong.” – Julie, 10 years experience (Schneider Jobs)

“It can be tough being a woman in a male-dominated industry. My advice is to get thick skin and don’t take things personally. Focus on doing your job well.” – Wendy, 15 years experience (Schneider Jobs)

“Learn everything you can when you’re starting out. Ride along with experienced drivers. Ask questions. Master your equipment inside and out.” – Jamie, 7 years experience (Schneider Jobs)

“Having patience and understanding will take you far. You’ll encounter challenges but keeping a level head will help you handle them.” – Monica, 3 years experience (Schneider Jobs)

“My top tips for any woman entering trucking are to stay alert, trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to speak up if something makes you uncomfortable.” – Christina, 6 years experience (Schneider Jobs)

The Future Looks Bright

Despite the challenges, the future looks bright for women in trucking. More women are seeing truck driving as a viable, well-paying career. As the driver shortage grows, trucking companies are actively trying to recruit women drivers with targeted advertising and outreach campaigns. According to Women in Trucking, the number of women drivers has increased by 68% since 2010.

Many experts predict strong growth in the number of women entering the trucking industry in the coming years. Companies that actively support and empower female drivers will likely have a recruitment advantage. Younger women are also coming into the industry with a fresh perspective, helping to change the “trucker” stereotype. As Megyn Burns states, “The desire for more women to join the trucking industry is stronger than ever.”

With more role models and support networks in place, trucking is poised to become a more inclusive field for women. Companies no longer have an excuse to lag on diversity. The future points to a transformation in trucking culture and huge opportunities for dedicated women looking to take the wheel.

As Burns concludes, “The future of women in trucking is promising and transformational, and they have the power to stimulate innovation and expansion in this crucial transportation industry.”

Conclusion

Despite being a male-dominated field historically, the trucking industry is gradually changing as more women enter the profession. Although there is still a way to go, the statistics show that female representation in trucking is rising each year. This increased inclusivity is necessary to help address the ongoing shortage of drivers across the country.

Trucking companies have a key role to play in empowering female drivers and making the profession more welcoming for women. Important steps include implementing better training, providing amenities geared towards women, and enforcing zero-tolerance policies for harassment. Companies should also highlight the successes of veteran female drivers to inspire more women to pursue this career path.

With a supportive environment and equal opportunities, trucking can be a viable and rewarding profession for women. The industry stands to benefit greatly from a more diverse workforce. The future looks bright for women in trucking as rising numbers of female drivers hit the open road and pave the way for the next generation of women seeking adventure, freedom, and success behind the wheel of a big rig.

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