There’s no denying that more needs to be done to increase the number of women in the trucking industry, but what does success look like?
It’s been three years now since I became the editor of Truck West magazine, and from day one, the conversation around women in trucking has been one of the most talked about issues.
Groups like Trucking HR Canada and Women Building Futures (WBF) have done some amazing work to help bring women into the fold.
We hear all the time how women make up just shy of half the workforce in Canada – and we may as well toss the U.S. into this conversation, because numbers down there are pretty comparable to Canada’s – yet such a small percentage of trucking positions are filled by women.
According to Trucking HR Canada, freight claims, safety, and loss prevention specialists make up the largest percentage of female workers at 25%. Then comes dispatchers at 18%, parts technicians 13%, managerial staff 11%, and the lowest numbers, mechanics, transport trailer technicians, cargo workers, and of course, drivers, all at a mere 3%.
These numbers obviously have to come up, and not simply because of any societal pressures to do so, but because women can do these jobs just as well as men, and ignoring the female pool of candidates would be plain stupidity from an industry in need of qualified workers.
But as I questioned above, what should these numbers look like to constitute success?
Do we actually think that because women make up 48% of the workforce that there should be 48% women in all of these industry roles?
I don’t think so, and it’s not because I think more men should do these jobs because they are men, it’s because I haven’t lost sight of the fact that men and women are different – very different in some cases.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, some of the most common occupations for women are pre-school and kindergarten teachers (where 96.8% are women), nurse, psychiatric, and home aides (89.4%), social worker (83.8%), bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks (89.8%), and elementary school teachers (80.7%), to name a few.
The fact that many of the occupations women dominate are often lower paying jobs than those men occupy is a separate concern, and needs to be addressed separately.
Back to my point – women and men have different interests. Not all – there are of course exceptions. Yes, there are some men who want to be wedding planners, kindergarten teachers, own a flower shop, or be a nurse. Just like there are some women who want to be construction laborers, welders, carpenters, or, yes, truck drivers.
For years, several women looking to get into traditionally male careers have not been given the proper opportunities, tools, and pathway to do so, which is why organizations like Trucking HR Canada and WBF are so important.
But we can’t lose sight of the fact that men and women are not the same (thank goodness) and are often attracted to different careers than are men.
As much as women have been wrongly shunned in the past, and still today, from traditional male jobs, let’s not pretend that there are no general differences between the sexes when it comes to choosing a career.
Women who want to be truck drivers should be able to with the same ease and support as men. But human nature will guarantee that there will always be more male construction workers and more female school teachers.
Now I’m going to go downstairs and finish watching Pretty Woman while my wife watches that darn football game!
Roger McKnight is the Chief Petroleum Analyst with En-Pro International Inc.
Roger has over 25 years experience in the oil industry, and has held senior marketing management positions responsible for national and international accounts. He is the originator of the card lock concept of marketing on-road diesel that is now the predominant purchase method of diesel in Canada. Roger's knowledge of the oil industry in North America, and pricing structures has resulted in his expertise being sought as a commentator by local, national, and international media. Roger is a regular guest on radio and television programs, and he is quoted regularly in newspapers and magazines across Canada. All posts by Roger McKnight