Promoting all women in the trucking industry

The Women In Trucking Association represents all women employed in the trucking industry.  We represent the women who design the trucks, build the trucks, buy the trucks, fix the trucks and drive the trucks.  If you are one of the five percent of female drivers or one of the fourteen percent of female managers in the trucking industry, we are here for you.

The overall purpose of the organization is to increase the percentage of women working in the trucking industry to utilize unrealized potential.  As former US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said, “After all – regardless of gender – everyone uses our transportation systems, and those systems will serve us more effectively when they are planned, designed, engineered and built by the professionals who represent all of us.”

So, why are women under-represented within the management group of a typical trucking company?  Remember the days of Smith (or Jones or Miller) and Sons Trucking?  Many fathers brought their sons into the family business to carry on the tradition.  Today, you can find many daughters who have taken over their parents’ companies, but there are still not enough women in the executive suite.

Although women comprise nearly half of the labor force and earn more degrees than their male peers, women in the top ranks in transportation careers are in the minority.  Why should YOU want this to change?

Pepperdine University found a correlation between high-level female executives and business success.  Harvard Business Review reported that firms with the best records for promoting women outperform industry medians with overall profits 34 percent higher. Catalyst Research found that companies with the highest representation of women leaders financially outperform, on average, companies with the lowest.

It makes good, financial sense to have more women in leadership roles within your organization.   What are some of the reasons this hasn’t been accomplished so far?  There are many things we can point to in order to understand WHY women aren’t more visible in top-level roles.

First, there are biological reasons!  According to research conducted by Kay & Shipman in The Atlantic, women are driven by estrogen (men by testosterone) and estrogen encourages bonding and connection and discourages conflict and risk taking. Women activate the amygdalae (the brain’s fear center) more easily than men and testosterone encourages a focus on winning and demonstrating power. Women who were given testosterone were less able to collaborate.

What does this mean in regard to career progression?  Taking risks is associated with working outside your comfort zone and pushing beyond your normal duties.  As Halla Tomasdottir, an Icelandic Fund Manager stated, “White male values are about risk-taking, short-term gain and a focus on the individual; female values tend toward risk–awareness, the long term and team goals.”  That is what makes women more valuable in the boardroom but less valued by their male peers who view assertiveness and boldness as leadership traits more often exhibited by men. 

Yale Psychologist, Victoria Brescoll found that male executives who spoke more often than their peers were rated ten percent higher in competence.  However, when female executives spoke more than their peers, both men and women gave them a fourteen percent lower rating in competence.

Apparently we find assertiveness to be more acceptable for men and less positive for women.  In fact, an article titled, Gender, Job Authority, and Depression, in the December 2014 Journal of Health and Social Behavior stated that women with job authority have more education, higher incomes, more prestigious occupations and higher levels of job satisfaction…. and worse mental health than lower status women.

When women display assertiveness and confidence they are judged negatively for being unfeminine.  This contributes to chronic stress.

In order to secure a place for women in leadership roles within the trucking industry, we need to better understand the values women bring to the boardroom.  More importantly, we need to view those values as being important for company growth and stability. 

After all, shouldn’t we follow Former Secretary LaHood’s advice and make sure the trucking industry management team represents those who rely on this industry to ensure their consumer needs are met?

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