Women don’t feel wanted in trucking, but new research reveals an opportunity

New research on women’s perception of trucking and the career opportunities within it paint a sobering picture, but also create an opportunity.

Abacus Data recently completed a survey of 1,500 job-seeking Canadian women on behalf of Trucking HR Canada. Those eye-opening results were then shared on March 8, International Women’s Day and the date of the ninth annual Women with Drive conference. Abacus CEO David Coletto prefaced his findings with a warning: “I’m going to share some data today that’s, let’s be honest, isn’t all positive.”

Female dispatcher
There’s more to careers in trucking than driving, but are we effectively communicating that? (Photo: iStock)

He wasn’t kidding. Only 23% of responding women said they’d consider working in the trucking and logistics sector – dead last among 11 sectors listed, and lower than other male-dominated industries such as construction, manufacturing, and forestry.

But the survey also revealed that women’s reluctance to join the trucking industry are rooted in outdated and in some cases incorrect perceptions. For example, 13% cited a lack of confidence with driving as their main reason to not consider a career in trucking, suggesting few are aware of the career opportunities that exist in trucking that don’t involve driving a truck.

Lack of awareness

Time away from family was listed as another detractor, and that too ignores the fact that trucking has many office jobs on offer. There seems to be a lack of awareness that the trucking and logistics industries require office managers, HR professionals, receptionists, salespeople, etc. Of those who said they wouldn’t consider working in the trucking industry, 60% of respondents said they’d consider administrative/clerical work, 59% human resources jobs, and 51% customer service positions – all roles that exist within trucking and logistics.

But the biggest factor cited by women will be more difficult to overcome: 38% said a lack of interest and passion is their main reason to not consider working in the trucking industry. This is where there’s work to be done and those attending the conference had no shortage of suggestions.

These ranged from putting more pink trucks on the road to help communicate that women are welcome in the industry, to better promoting the leadership roles women have earned within trucking. One attendee said she was surprised during a job interview when she was asked how many leadership positions within the company were held by women. Most of them are, and it’s now something she actively promotes when interviewing young women for jobs.

Most don’t feel wanted

Our industry hasn’t done a good enough job informing women that they’re wanted here. The majority of women (56%) indicated they don’t feel the trucking industry wants them. Efforts, such as those by Trucking HR Canada, have been ramped up significantly to dispel this perception in recent years, but with a workforce that’s only 15% comprised of women, it’s proving to be a long and arduous barrier to overcome.

The good news in all of this is that the Abacus survey also presented opportunities for the industry to do more, and do better.

“Of those who are closed to working in the industry, 55% say after learning all the activities that exist in the sector, they feel more positive [about trucking job opportunities],” Coletto said.

This means it’s incumbent on the industry to do more to knock down these barriers, to let women know they’re wanted here, and that there are career opportunities here for them – even if they don’t see themselves driving a truck. More good news – compensation wasn’t considered a barrier. Half of those surveyed felt they’d make more money working in the trucking industry than in other sectors.

The challenge ahead is summed up succinctly by Coletto, so I’ll let him have the last word: “Perception is the problem with this industry,” he told attendees. “It isn’t that people think they’re not going to get paid well or have a good job…the initial data is telling us that frankly, women just need to know what is happening and need to feel this industry is open to them.”

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • put more pink trucks on the road – that is a joke. Women want to be treated as equals – do the job as is required and leave the drama at home