Currently, women represent 48% of the Canadian workforce yet only 3% of Canada’s truck drivers, technicians, and cargo workers. The trucking industry has begun taking steps toward marketing the industry to women in hopes that more female drivers will help solve the driver shortage and fill in the gaps left by aging male drivers.
As the driver shortage worsens the trucking industry has turned its attention to female drivers in hopes of attracting more women to the industry. Sources say this shift in attention is ‘about not overlooking 50% of the potential workforce in Canada’ and about lessening the driver shortage and combating the aging driver population.
There are many hurdles in this attempt to appeal to women. The public image of the trucking industry involves it being male-dominated work in which you are away from home for long periods of time, have to be mechanically inclined, must be strong, etc. That image makes many women feel as though they would not fit into this industry. It is necessary to change the public image of the trucking industry and appeal to women in order to convince more females that driving trucks is a viable career option.
What are they doing to convince women to drive?
In March of this year the Government of Canada committed $421,720 to developing a mentorship program to further women in the trucking industry. This money is intended to develop a mentorship program and identify best practices for hiring under-represented groups. This program, entitled Women with Drive, developed a 5 step action plan:
- Develop mentoring, training, and professional development opportunities for women in trucking
- Develop a marketing and communication plan to promote workplace challenges for women
- Develop workplace policies, procedures, and best practices for the industry
- Obtain more insight from female drivers to get a better understanding of what they face on a daily basis
- Influence policy at multiple levels of government to effect systemic change
There is also a non-profit organization called Women in Trucking that is doing excellent work to promote women in the trucking industry. They are a resource for women in the industry to help address obstacles they may face. They work toward raising awareness, reaching a larger audience, and gaining exposure for women in the industry. This organization works toward creating a better public image for trucking and helps to spread the word that women have been doing these jobs for a long time, that women are capable of doing these jobs, and that strides are being made to accommodate women into this male-dominated industry. Visit womenintrucking.org for more information.
One company making these accommodations for women is Ryder. Ryder has worked with Women in Trucking to implement changes in order to appeal to female drivers. They have implemented adjustable seats and pedals, lower steps for accessing cabs/freight, and less fatiguing automatic transmissions in their trucks. These changes not only benefit women but also help the aging driving population that could benefit from the same alterations.
Is it working?
While it is a continuous process to bring more women into the industry, the women who are currently driving trucks are fairly happy. A survey from Trucking HR Canada found that 70% of women said their experience in the industry was ‘positive’ or ‘mostly positive’.
Female drivers have also noted that flexible hours, belt redesign, and no touch cargo could help to draw more women to the industry. A few drivers noted that trucking companies should promote some of the great benefits to driving such as being your own boss, low stress, and decent pay without a college degree, in order to help attract more female drivers.
What about the future?
While we are far from having women represent 50% of the truck drivers in Canada, the Canadian government and many companies in the industry are taking necessary steps to show women that they are more than capable of finding a career in trucking. By making truck adjustments and working with organizations like Women in Trucking, steps are being taken to alter the public image of the trucking industry and, through changing social attitudes, attract more female drivers.