Truck News

News  February 5, 2014 1:40PM

SWIFT wants more women in trucking

OTTAWA, Ont. — A new national advisory committe has been formed with the goal of helping women find and develop careers in the trucking industry.


OTTAWA, Ont. — A new national advisory committe has been formed with the goal of helping women find and develop careers in the trucking industry.

Supporting Women in Freight Transportation (SWIFT) was created to accomplish three main objectives:

  • Raise awareness among women of the various career opportunities that exist in the trucking and freight transportation industry
  • Raise awareness among employers of recruitment and retention practices that can better support the integration of women into the workforce
  • Develop practical tools to support connecting women with careers in trucking and freight transportation.

SWIFT hopes to achieve these goals by developing a national employment strategy, identifying best practices regarding recruiting, hiring and promoting women, identifying the challenges and barriers women face entering or being promoted in the industry, and promoting the trucking industry as an industry of choice for women looking for good careers.

Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada, explains why this committee is needed.

“While many gains have been made, women are still largely under-represented in trucking-related careers,” she says.

“This challenge needs to be addressed as the trucking industry looks to ease an intensifying shortage of skilled workers.”

According to figures issued by SWIFT, only 3% of truck drivers, mechanics, transport trailer technicians, and cargo workers in Canada are women. Within the trucking industry, 11% percent of managers are women, 13% of parts technicians are women, 18% of dispatchers are women and 25% of freight claims/safety and loss prevention specialists are women.

Trucking HR Canada is the lead organization behind SWIFT, but a broad range of senior managers, directors, presidents and C-level executives are involved as committee members. Among the committee members is Kathy Penner, associate publisher of Truck News and Truck West magazines.

SWIFT’s inaugural meeting will be held in Toronto on April 11 during the Truck World trade show.


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6 Comments » for SWIFT wants more women in trucking
  1. Susan White says:

    WIT, WOMEN IN TRUCKING has been doing this for years and same mission. What took Swift so long?

  2. Patricia says:

    I’m sure that part of the problem is male drivers’ attitude towards women in trucking. That might be an aspect that SWIFT may want to work on also. This is one of the last frontiers for women to break through. I drove buses professionally years ago and men’s attitudes towards me was amoung the hardest things to deal with…

  3. Bev Plummer says:

    Every few years there’s a big interest in getting more women into the trucking industry as drivers.
    I stared hauling into the U.S.A in 1985 and I met women there who had been at it for years, in fact the first woman to get her CDL did so in 1929 or 1930.
    There used to be a Women in trucking magazine that changed to Women & Teams in Trucking that I used to pick up in truck stops down there.
    We see more women in trucks now than when I started but our truck magazines have rarely promoted women drivers.
    About 3 years ago I was on my way south and stopped in a rest area, I saw an East Indian woman dressed in Sari climbing into the drivers side of a long nosed Pete, I had driven for this company for 10 years so I went over and introduced myself. She and her husband had driven team for 6 years and when they bought the second truck they opted to split up and each drive a truck! I listened as she left and her shifting was professional grade.
    I don’t think there will ever be an equal amount of women to men drivers
    any more then there will be an equal number of men in nursing or working as office secretaries.
    A fellow that used to write for our truck magazines told me he couldn’t find any women drivers at the truck stops! I told that’s because they are in their trucks resting, or getting caught up on paperwork or other hobbies, some are artists some actually sew or knit in their down time, we don’t waste our time in the game rooms .
    Some U.S companies have actually set up some of their trucks to allow single mothers to homeschool their child on the road.

    We’ve been out here for nearly 200 years….we just keep a low profile.

    Come on ladies let our Canadian trucking magazines know who we are !!!

    Bev Plummer
    Professional Driver Ret

  4. Desiree Wood says:

    Our group is a driver led organization called REAL Women in Trucking and we have been providing self help tools and virtual mentors going on 4 years. One big problem for women entering trucking is they are given very poor information when they enter. One recent female student was told by driver solutions that should could make $40K in her first year. This gal would be a 3rd generation trucker , she know the lifestyle but this was not accurate.

    She left 3 kids hoping to make that kind of money and at the end of the year she actually made $18,ooo after paying her tuition. Another women student who made contact with our organization was approached for sex in exchange for a passing grade just hours after being put on the truck. She was left in motels over the holidays for weeks far from home and with no knowledge on how to file a human resource complaint.

    The encouragement of women to enter trucking makes no sense if they are simply misled into the industry or put in an unsafe training environment with no support network. This is why our driver organization was formed and we hope more women in other transportation sectors begin to help change what is occurring that prevents qualified women from becoming qualified drivers and moving on into good carriers that appreciate that they work twice as hard.

    Sincerely,

    Desiree Wood
    President
    REAL Women in Trucking, Inc.

  5. Kathy Earl says:

    I think it is terrific that another group/organization will be involved in the support of women drivers. It would be even more beneficial if some of the above ladies were invited to the group to give input and their personal views to better the program. We can all use the help in any way shape or form, lets all work together to get this done and maybe we can work out here safety and effectively! I think that SWIFT would greatly benefit from your words of wisdom.

  6. Bev Plummer says:

    Its really great to see more women responding to this article. I especially feel compassion for the women who get mistreated when they join the trucking industry.
    As an OTR coach I took many women trainees on their first long haul experience, the one thing I preached from day one was DO NOT try to be one of the men ! I have tried to help women drivers who thought each night at a truck stop was a party night and would take off and come back to the truck at 2 or 3 A.M, then wonder why they didn’t get any respect from the other drivers. We have to act professionally ALL the time. We have to do ALL of the things required of a driver, from pulling the pin to sliding bogies (trailer wheels).
    I have had women trainees who started out very intimidated by the job and who turned out to be excellent drivers.
    I have seen women disrespected by men because their language was so crude or they dressed and acted like “lot lizards”, but as a woman driver running single I was treated with respect by most of the male drivers. Of course there were some who acted like Billy Big Riggers but I learned to disregard them, because you can’t argue with a fool.
    I think one of the biggest problem for new driver is they don’t research the companies and schools well enough, they need to get in writing what is offered, what OTR training is offered and what training gives their trainer the qualifications to be an OTR trainer.
    During the 30+ years I spent as driver and trainer I tried to get programs set up where in truck trainers had to be trained to train, also tried to get truck schools to include a class to teach new drivers how to live on the road, has that happened,,,, not yet but I’m still hoping and willing to help.

    Bev Plummer
    Prof Driver Ret

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