Women Changing the Industry
The life of a female truck driver can be incredibly rewarding, but it doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges.
Life on the road comes with a liberating sense of freedom and control. It allows many to leave behind a dull, uninteresting job and a micromanaging boss to pursue a more independent position, where they have much more control over how they get their job done.
While this level of freedom is a perk, the time spent away from home is often a big deal breaker—especially for women, who would much rather spend the majority of their time with their family. The average truck driver spends two to four weeks away from home at a time (driving for up to 11 hours every day) and some are on the road for months at a time.
As in every male-dominated industry, the role of a female truck driver doesn't come without a certain amount of prejudice and sexist remarks. Fortunately, gender plays no part in the fine print of the job offer. You see, unlike in so many different industries today, women truck drivers receive all the same benefits men do and are paid just as much. One of the greatest appeals of driving truck is that the pay is based on the work—not gender, race, or age.
To summarize, the life of a female truck driver is a good one, but tough skin and resilience are required for trailblazing in a male-dominated industry such as this one.
Nowadays, more and more trucking companies are working to foster more favorable work conditions for women in trucking. The fact of the matter is that the trucking industry has a whole lot to gain from an influx of female truck drivers.
As the situation currently stands, the trucking industry is expecting to face a devastating loss of drivers as the 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. ATA data also indicates that because of this expected shortfall, trucking companies have begun to increase their wages and attract new drivers with top-notch benefit packages.
Women can benefit the trucking industry by contributing to filling 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 6.2% of all truck drivers are female, which means there’s plenty room for more.
But the trucking industry needs women for more than simply filling the gap. Female truck drivers are quickly becoming an asset in this job that requires patience, communication, and self-motivation. In a report published by Medill Reports Chicago, driver manager Cody Edwards said that “women are ‘perfect candidates’ to drive trucks.”
Women can also greatly improve the trucking industry with safe driving practices. Despite the old sexist jokes about incompetent female drivers, research concludes that women are far less likely to cause a car accident than man. According to a collection of data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, more male truckers die in vehicle crashes than women do.
Here are a few interesting facts and statistics about women in the trucking industry.
Female truck drivers have come a long way in earning a place alongside the men, even going so far as to open their own trucking companies. This revolutionary step forward began in the 1900’s with a woman named Elizabeth (Lillie) McGee Drennan, who blazed her way through a predominantly male industry and opened the first women-owned trucking business, Drennan Truck Line. Lillie battled adversity and sexism to help lay the groundwork for other strong women, and she continues to serve as an icon of female empowerment today.
Here are a few more examples of females who’ve taken great strides in this industry with women-owned trucking businesses.
After her father’s passing, Sherri Garner Brumbaugh took over the family business and became the owner of Garner Trucking Inc. Ever since Sherri took the wheel, this woman-owned trucking business has grown substantially, with a fleet of more than 100 trucks and counting. Before stepping in as president and owner, Sherri was an employee of Garner Trucking for 18 years, and she used her insider experience to nurture the small company into the booming organization it is today.
All America Transportation is a woman-owned trucking business in Saint Louis, Missouri. The owner, Lianne Reizer, has been leading the company since 1996 when the former owner retired. What’s even more impressive about this woman-owned trucking business is that Lianne worked closely with her mother to turn it into the successful business that it is today.
As if breaking ground in a male-dominated industry with a successful freight brokerage wasn’t enough to be proud of, Lianne also went on to start another company called Petro Logistics, a wholesale petroleum supplier.
Shortly after graduating nursing school, Andra Rush realized she wanted more than what a career in nursing could give her and she went back to school to learn about business. At the young age of 23, Andra Rush started her own trucking company with nothing but an old van, a couple used pickup trucks, and a heap of debt.
With years of hard work and perseverance, Rush was able to turn her small startup into a thriving $400 million business that takes pride in employing, training, and mentoring hundreds of Native Americans across the country.
Andra Rush has received countless points of praise and recognition for creating hundreds of jobs in Detroit, improving the lives of a minority population, and setting the standard for powerful women in male-dominated industries.
Although women have come a long way in this industry, there is still plenty of room for improvement that can be made by the trucking companies.
In a survey conducted by The Women in Trucking Association and Sawgrass Logistics, women truckers were asked to rate how safe they felt while on the job on a scale of 1-10. The majority vote came in at a concerning 4.4.
It stands to reason that—in this case—an absence of feelings of security while on the job stems from a lack of respect and suitable amenities for women. It’s not at all uncommon for female truck drivers to experience some degree of sexual harassment and prejudice from their male counterparts, and the typical truck stop is a far cry from a woman-friendly environment.
Trucking companies can help to resolve this problem by seeking out and hiring more female drivers, fostering a workplace culture of mutual respect between men and women, and increasing awareness and acceptance when it comes to female truck drivers.
The job specifics of a trucker were originally designed to fit the size and capabilities of a large man. One way trucking companies can drastically improve working conditions for women is by tailoring industry tools, equipment, and resources to better suit both genders.
When it comes to a career in the trucking industry, one of the major deal-breakers for most women is the amount of time truckers spend away from their home and family, which can range from weeks to months. Regardless of their position at work, many women still cherish their roles as a wife and mother at home.
If trucking companies can provide schedules that are more flexible and allow drivers to spend more time at home between jobs, they may be able to attract a lot more drivers—both men and women—and create a more positive and realistic career opportunity.
Women who are interested in a career on the road can greatly benefit from taking advantage of a mentorship with another female truck driver. Thanks to associations like Women in Trucking, mentorships aren’t so difficult to come by. Aspiring drivers can find their mentor through the Mentoring Center on the Women in Trucking Website, or by seeking out female truck drivers at local transportation companies—or better yet, at a woman-owned trucking business.
No matter where new drivers find their mentors, it’s critical for new and seasoned female truck drivers to cultivate and maintain a supportive community—on and off the road. Women truckers can make a powerful impact on the trucking industry by coming together and helping one another by means of support and encouragement. If you’re thinking about becoming a truck driver, put some time into finding the right community for you, whether it be the WIT Mentoring Center or a Facebook group for women in trucking.
As previously mentioned, the life of a female trucker may feel unsafe at times. Here are a few tips women truckers can use to stay safe on the road.
Truck drivers are in high demand—especially women truck drivers. Finding a job should be easy if you have an updated application, a clean driving record, and adequate interview skills. To get started on the path that leads to your dream career, decide which trucking job opportunity is right for you, send your driver profile to a few local trucking companies..
Get involved in the trucking community, educate yourself in your field, and fine tune your skills by attending one or all of these top truck driver conferences in 2019.
Are you ready to join the ranks of empowered women in trucking? Begin a rewarding and liberating career in trucking today with CDL. We’re here to provide you with all the tools and resources you need to become a successful licensed truck driver and pursue a career that you can enjoy and be proud of. Have Questions? Give us a call and we can answer your questions and help you get started in toward a career in trucking.
Trucking Driving Shortage Analysis 2017
Women In The Labor Force | United States Department of Labor
Men vs. Women: Who Are Safer Drivers? | CBS News
Opportunities Open Up for Women Truckers, But Their Numbers Remain Small | Medill Reports Chicago
The Life and History of Lillie Drennan | Heavy Metal Truck Training
Bringing Gender Diversity to Transportation | Women In Trucking
Trucking Safety Facts | TruckingInfographic: Interesting Facts About Trucking Safety | Trucker PlanetSeat Belts | NHTSANew