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Women in Trucking CEO urges industry to redefine the road

Mississauga, Ont. – The leader of Women in Trucking expressed the need to redefine the road at a session during the Recruitment and Retention conference hosted by Over the Road.

Mississauga, Ont. – The leader of Women in Trucking expressed the need to redefine the road at a session during the Recruitment and Retention conference hosted by Over the Road.

On October 2, Ellen Voie, the president, CEO and founder of Women in Trucking, spoke to industry experts and colleagues about the lackluster image women have within the transport industry.

“I want to help you think about ways to get more women in trucking,” Voie said.

Voie told a crowd at the conference that the mandate of Women In Trucking is to increase the number of females in the industry.

“We are not necessarily an organization for women, we are about women,” said Voie.

Women, according to Voie, are ideal candidates to get behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer for various reasons. Women, it has been reported, take fewer risks, are usually easier to train, tend to be better with customers, paper work and equipment.

“It is proven that women take fewer risks because of testosterone,” said Voie. “That’s simple biology.”

While the benefits of having women behind the wheel are proven, the industry still faces many challenges, such as image and exposure, recruiting, the demands in a physical environment, harassment and safety at truck stops and docks.

“Images appeal to both women and men,” Voie said, hoping that the industry will begin to use realistic models and create ads that reflect the driver.

The advertisements within the industry have a sexist undertone that Voie hopes is eliminated.

“One ad asked readers to ‘take a peek under our skirt,’” said Voie. “Is this a company a woman wants to work for?”

Image isn’t the only challenge, physical demands are also playing a difficult role and ergonomic vehicles could alleviate the some problems.

“Trucks need to be as adaptable for women as they are for men,” said Voie, who recounted a recent conversation she had with a female driver who always tucked the seatbelt behind her back because it cut into her neck and shoulders since it was made for the average man’s build.

Safety and security issues are also a concern for all drivers, but especially female operators.

Voie reported that most women always pay close attention to their surroundings, never park at the rear of a building and stay to well-lit areas, issues that their male counterparts have often attested they overlook, but aren’t ignorant to.

“All drivers have to be safe,” Voie said. “Not just women.”

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4 Comments » for Women in Trucking CEO urges industry to redefine the road
  1. Bev Plummer says:

    For over 35 years I drove one kind of truck or another and I was never hired as a woman but as a driver.
    When I started hauling into the U.S in 1985 I met lots of women drivers who had been out there doing the job for many years, we were called drivers, When I trained drivers for my company I took whoever was ready to go, male or female we stayed out for 2 weeks.
    I told them “driver” has no gender, the job is what it is and we all have to do it to succeed.
    Back in the “good old days” the equipment was nothing like it was when I retired 3 years ago, I’m wondering if Ms Voie would have approved of some of the trucks we drove then,, but we managed to get the freight delivered upright and on time.
    In all the years I drove I was never robbed or threatened because I made sure to deal with my customers and find out ahead of time where it was safe to park. Not taking the word of another driver I didn’t know kept me out of a few situations, and always learning as much as I could from the ones who were reliable.
    The trucks today are like RVs we can set them up with all the luxuries of a small motor home, and as far as the seat belt problem goes there are many add ons that help shorter drivers adjust it to themselves.

    I think truck magazines like Truck News should do more to promote the women that are out there making a success of being a professional driver,I tried to suggest that years ago but it wasn’t promoted.
    I’m sure some of them could write a blog that is interesting to all drivers.

    Stay safe
    Bev Plummer
    Professional Driver Ret.

  2. Lauren Smith says:

    I absolutely concur with Bev Plummer’s sentiments! Especially the fact that “driver” has no gender.

    I drove for major and minor construction companies for many years, hauling equipment and materials with tandem dump trucks with various trailers. What any new driver (male OR female) will find, is that all ‘new’ employees will have some sort of ‘break-in’ period with any new job or trade and driving is no exception. Once you have shown that you are there for the job you will absolutely ‘lose’ your gender and ‘just’ be a driver, like everyone else.

    As for the ergonomics of trucks, most of the drivers (male and female) that I have had the pleasure working with over the years were the exact same height as me at 5″2 or shorter. You adapt.

    When we start promoting ‘women’ as drivers or in trades as opposed to ‘people’ as drivers or in trades, we are painting a target on the back of each and every woman out there ‘just’ doing their job day after day.

    Not everyone is meant to be a professional driver, but for those of us with diesel in our veins, there is no better place to be than in the cab of your truck listening to the whistle of the turbo or the growl of the Jake.

    Keep the rubber side down!
    Lauren S.

  3. Daniela Piteo says:

    Hi Bev,
    I agree that Truck News should do more to promote the women that are out on the road working as professional drivers. Please email me,
    Daniela Piteo
    Assistant Editor, Truck News

  4. Bev Plummer says:

    Lauren, your comments were right on the mark. Thanks for taking the time to add your earned knowledge to this discussion. I too worked on construction in the 70s as the first woman driver for a local construction company, and in 1979 I took a job as a “tanker yanker” for a company picking up milk at farms in the area, those shotgun tankers teach you a lot about who is really boss ,lol
    Hopefully the trucking magazines will start to pay a little more attention to the rest of the driver pool who have been getting the job done for well over 50 years.

    Bev Plummer

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