Some jobs just seem to attract more workers of one gender than another. These patterns have more to do with long-standing biases about which industries and occupations are “better suited” to men or women than actual gender-based differences in knowledge, abilities, or career interests.
In trucking and logistics, men make up 85% of the workforce. The ratio of women to men drops even further in certain jobs such as truck driver (3% female) or technicians and mechanics (1.5% female).
In contrast, women account for 87% of general administrative workers, 85% of accounting staff, and 61% of HR staff.
These numbers are consistent across the industry: similar data show up on virtually every trucking association’s website around the world!
Is it the job or the industry?
Why does this gender imbalance exist? Is it the reputation of the industry as being a male domain? Or that certain jobs are perceived as being inherently oriented toward men?
Our labor market information suggests that it may be both.
On one hand, the percentage of female mechanics working across all sectors of the economy is roughly the same as it is in trucking and logistics: 2%, compared with 1.5%. Perhaps the job just doesn’t appeal to women.
On the other hand, more that 50% of dispatchers in Canada are women compared to only 39% in trucking and logistics, suggesting that the industry is an issue. THRC’s research, Millennials Have Drive 2, found that women make up about one third of the 1.1 million “warm leads” who say they might consider a job in trucking.
That’s more than 360,000 young women.
Where we are today
What do we know about women who already work in trucking?
Right now, about 97,000 women are working in Canada’s trucking and logistics industry and more than half are doing front-line jobs in shipping and receiving (21%); driving a truck (10%); driving for a local delivery or courier service (8%); dispatching (6%); or material handling (5%).
Another 21% of women in trucking work in administration, accounting, and human resources.
Fewer than 5% of the sector’s female employees are in management or supervisory positions. This small fraction in senior leadership no doubt contributes to the industry’s problems recruiting and retaining women.
Highlighting the experiences and variety of career choices of women who already work in trucking and logistics could help companies appeal to more female leads.
And tapping into their workplace experiences would help us all better understand and address the gender-based challenges and barriers in our workforce. We must:
- Determine if the challenges our industry faces in attracting and retaining women are the same or different than those in other male-dominated industries.
- Study and learn from more gender-balanced sectors.
- Create a more balanced culture that appeals to diverse groups of people.
- Set clear, achievable, and measurable targets and KPIs for achieving a more gender balanced workforce in trucking and logistics.
With our industry facing severe labor shortages – on average, trucking and logistics has about 7,300 vacant jobs annually – women represent a vastly underutilized source of workers. The industry’s gender imbalance is a complex issue but one that requires us to think about the most appropriate strategies to get it right.
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