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A plentiful job market may sound like great news for everyone — but while low unemployment benefits job seekers, it can actually hurt industries facing worker shortages, such as trucking. These companies are now struggling to fill open positions and prepare for future growth.
Trucking’s challenges demand new approaches to hiring, such as venturing outside the traditional talent pool. While the vast majority of drivers are men, women are often-overlooked candidates who can also excel in these roles. To learn more about the opportunities for women in trucking and transportation, we spoke with Ellen Voie, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Women in Trucking Association (WIT).
Why women and trucking are a good match
Trucking is big business: According to Indeed data, over 1 million truck driver jobs were posted on the platform in 2018. But as everyone in the industry knows, it is tough to hire: job-seeker interest falls short of demand, and the shortage of drivers is predicted to grow, reaching 160,000 by the year 2028.
Companies have long struggled to fill open trucker positions, but the situation has grown worse thanks to high turnover, retirement and increased demand for goods, driving an increased need for drivers. Yet a key demographic is consistently missed in the industry’s recruiting efforts: women.
While women represent nearly 50% of the general labor force, they account for fewer than 8% of truck drivers (though this number appears to be slightly on the rise). Women have much to contribute to this industry; not only are they 20% less likely than men to be involved in a crash, but according to Voie, carriers regularly tell her that women take better care of their equipment, are easier to train, and have superior customer service and paperwork skills.
Voie founded WIT in 2007 aiming to promote gender diversity, celebrate accomplishments and minimize challenges for women in the trucking industry. It started small but has blossomed into a global operation with over 4,000 members and a huge social media following.
There are many benefits of trucking and transportation careers that women may not be aware of, Voie says. The average annual salary for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers is just over $43,000 — well above the federal minimum wage — and some companies have been raising pay to attract workers. Furthermore, there is no gender pay gap among drivers.
“You’re either paid by the mile, the load [or] the percentage,” says Voie.
For women without a college degree, driving a truck offers better benefits and greater stability than common positions such as food service or home health aides. What’s more, Voie notes that drivers have clear opportunities for advancement into management or office roles.
Trucking companies want to hire more women
Despite the upsides, image is an issue when it comes to women in the industry. Since over 90% of drivers are male, trucking has long been viewed as a masculine profession. Thanks to this unconscious bias, employers may not be aware that their recruiting efforts primarily target men….